Goodbye My Friend


Philip R. Klein, Editor

I get it…no really I do. There are many in the political world that simply do not like me. And that is all good – I get it. However, there are some that call and seek my advice issues that range from money to political movements. One of those people was Dick Nugent – the former mayor of the city of Nederland. 

Dick died this week of cancer. 

To say that Dick and I were friends would be true. He was a smart political guy that stayed in office for over 15 years.  Dick was a man that when he spoke you needed to listen to what he said. He was a man of honor. He was a man of integrity. He was a man that I respected. He was a man that knew the political landscape – but just could not understand why people do what they do when they get elected to office. 

Many have wondered if Dick was one of my sources. I will take that to the grave with me. But again – when he talked I listened and asked no questions. 

Over the last few months, Dick and I had the chance to have a couple of heart to heart talks about life, politics and the future of Jefferson County. To say he was concerned would be an understatement. 

Dick worried about the state of our county. Why so much corruption? Why so much power-grabbing? What happened to those that wanted the county to thrive and grow? What happened to the leaders? What happened to those that wanted to create a place better than they found it? Why did the issues that faced Jefferson County over the years still stay the same and do not get fixed? How in the heavens name is Jefferson County ever going to get fixed?

In one of our last conversations with Dick, he teared up knowing that his time on earth was over. His loyal daughter by his side, scared, and not knowing what to do, told me in the end that was what it was all about in life. God, family and then everything other. And he was right. Once one of the most powerful voices in Southeast Texas, who served on the SETRP, was mayor of a town, and a true voice of Southeast, Texas, who fought cancer for so many years and actually gave part of his body to live, was proud of what he tried to do for not only his community but for his neighbors.

What did he do? Well, for one, he always had emergency services in his mind. Fire, EMS, and Police departments were on the top of his list. He knew that these guys and ladies were on the top tier of what faces each community. Crime, public safety, and service. That was Dick Nugent. He saw through the BS of big government. He knew that cities are built and taxes are paid to do things together that we could not do alone. 

Dick’s last words to me were about two weeks ago. I had the opportunity to be in his home. He asked me to sit next to him on his bed. And then he said these words : “Philip, no matter what anyone says to you or about you, I have always found you to be a man of his word, a man who cares, and someone that when asked can do the job.  Never let anyone that does not know you pass any judgment on you as it would be unfair and misinformed. I was a good mayor because of people like you that stood by my side and gave me good advice. And remember this, you are only as good as the people around you.”

And that my friends are the reasons he was such a great leader. 

Later this week we will say a formal good-bye to Dick Nugent. He came from a generation that many young people simply do not understand. They should. But they don’t. Leaders come in many forms and shapes. This one came with a smile and the knowledge of helping his fellow mankind. 

I will come say goodbye to my friend in his afterlife. I will pray for peace for his family and friends. And then, I will go live the rest of my life in the lessons that I have learned from him and pray that I have done good things in life – and I did what Dick Nugent did – left this place just a little better than he found it. 

Dick, blessings, and peace to your soul. God blessed you – now watch over us and nudge us just a little when we get off course. 

Goodbye, my friend. God bless. 

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