CLEVELAND--Legendary political strategist Arnold Pinkney passed away Monday at the Hospice of the Western Reserve.
The Youngstown native and longtime Clevelander was a political icon who led both local and national leaders to power.
The former insurance executive helped put Louis Stokes in Congress. He also helped Frank Jackson win the Mayor's office in Cleveland.
In between, he was the campaign manager in 1984 for Jesse Jackson's historic bid for the White House.
"Arnold Pinkney is one of the most widely respected persons that I have ever known," Reverend Hilton Smith, president of the Cleveland chapter of the NAACP, told Fox 8 Monday.
Smith is now mourning the loss of his longtime friend and mentor.
"If you were kind of falling by the wayside, he would help you, pick you up and try to set you on the straight road. That's what I really loved about him," Smith said.
Smith told Fox 8 he shared some cherished final moments with Pinkney Sunday night in hospice care.
"To look at him and see the extraordinary vision and the visionary that he was," Smith said. "I don't know how long he was fighting the disease. I just know that he never gave up and he never gave in and he never gave out."
Cleveland City Council Monday evening began with a tribute to Pinkney, from some of those who owed their careers to his expertise.
"From the Mike Whites and the Louis Stokes and the Carl B. Stokes, and you think about these individuals--Frank Jackson--these individuals may sit in the seat of power that we call the Mayor's Office, but it was (Arnold Pinkney) who used a strategy to win the campaign for them to be able to sit in those seats. And that's a big loss for the city of Cleveland," said city councilman Zack Reed, who also looked up to Pinkney.
"When people like him put together the pillars to make a city as great as Cleveland is, you never forget them, and I think his legacy will never be lost here in the city of Cleveland," Reed said.
Hospice of the Western Reserve issued the following statement on behalf of the family of Pinkney's family:
Prominent businessman and political consultant Arnold R. Pinkney passed away at 1:30 p.m. Monday at David Simpson Hospice House. The family wishes to thank friends and family for their encouragement and expressions of love during this difficult time.
Several prominent politicians released statements on Pinkney's passing late Monday afternoon.
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald also issued the following statement to commemorate the life of community leader Arnold Pinkney.
"I was saddened to learn earlier today of the passing of Arnold Pinkney, who has served as one of Cleveland's most influential community leaders, civil rights activists, and local entrepreneurs over the past fifty years. Ohioans will always remember Arnold most as a trusted advisor to some of our most effective public servants, including Governor Richard Celeste, Judge Charles White, Mayor Carl Stokes, and Representative Louis Stokes, who he helped elect in 1968 as the first African-American to serve our state in the U.S. Congress. He leaves behind an incredible legacy."
"I extend my deepest sympathies to Arnold's wife Betty, their daughter Traci, and the entire Pinkney family during this difficult time."