TRIBUTES have been paid to local government "legend" JT Wilson, a former borough councillor and former Dudley Mayor.
Jack Wilson, who was Mayor from 1975-76 and chairman of Dudley Education Committee from 1966 to 1999, passed away on February 16 at the age of 94.
The “formidable” Labour party politician spent 53 years in education and presided over the building of 40 new Dudley schools during his time in office.
During his lengthy career he oversaw the building of an extension to Dudley College, now known as the JT Wilson Buildings, and he was instrumental in the creation of the Saltwells Education Centre.
He was also the borough’s longest serving governor - having been first elected in 1949; and he was made a Freeman of the Borough in 1989.
His dedication to public service also earned him an MBE and a fearsome reputation locally, nationally and even internationally.
Councillor David Sparks, leader of Dudley Council, led tributes to the man they called JT at Monday’s full council meeting.
He said: "I was fortunate to serve on two councils with JT Wilson.
"He was that type of politician that aroused strong feelings not only on the opposition side but also on his own side.
“Even now people still ask about JT Wilson.
"He was very, very interesting - an extremely right wing Labour figure. In fact there was always a rumour about JT Wilson that the only time he voted Labour was when he stood.”
Councillor David Caunt, Conservative party stalwart and former leader of Dudley Tories, described the former cllr as a "formidable opponent" but he said he “always tried to do the right thing on behalf of residents of Coseley and Dudley”.
He said: “Catchphrases come and go but there's one that will always be associated with JT - ‘do you know who I am?’ and of course everyone did know who JT was locally, regionally and nationally.”
He added: “I was lucky enough to have sparred with JT for 30 years in this chamber.
"He was a legend in local government - remembered by those who knew him well and those who didn't know him well but by reputation.
"The stories and the anecdotes will live on probably forever."
Councillor Liz Walker said: "JT had a passion for things he really believed in and he would fight to the death for what he really believed.”
Councillor Melvyn Mottram, Mayor of Dudley, said: "I had the great pleasure of serving with him during his time here at Dudley Council.
"I will remember him fondly as a colleague and a friend and the thoughts of myself and the council are with his family at this sad time."
JT, who lived and served as councillor in Coseley, passed away in his sleep at Broadway Halls Nursing Home where his wife of 47 years Margaret also resides.
He leaves a son John and two grandchildren.
His funeral will be held at Providence Baptist Chapel, Coseley, on March 6 at 2pm.