Former Mayor, St. Joseph Catholic School administrator, broadcaster and all-around Greenville man Paul Artman has died. He was 70.
Artman served as Greenville mayor from 1996-2004 after serving on city council starting in 1989.
He was also the administrator at St. Joseph Catholic School until his retirement four years ago.
Artman was born in Greenville in 1951 to Carol and Paul Artman. He married the former Barbara Deaton in 1975 and the two had four children.
His service in the Catholic Church dominated his life as he was a member of the Catholic Knights of Columbus and was its Grand Knight several times.
He was a Paul Harris Fellow, president and assistant district governor with the Greenville Rotary.
During his time as mayor, construction began on the Greenville Higher Education Center, the new U.S. Highway 82 Mississippi River Bridge and the U.S. Highway 82 Downtown Corridor Enhancement Project. Artman founded the Greenville Air Force Base Museum, Greenville Fire Museum, the 1927 Flood Museum, and the Greenville Historical Marker Trail.
While at St. Joe Artman worked with long-time coach Benny Strazi.
“He was a very good principal,” Strazi said. “And a die-hard St. Joe man.”
Strazi also said Artman was a trustworthy man.
“He was a man of his word,” Strazi said. “If he told me something, I believed it.”
Artman was a hard-working and energetic person according to long-time friend Benjy Nelken.
“I was amazed at how much he loved Greenville,” Nelken said. “His energy was just amazing. He was a big old boy and got around to everything.”
Nelken said he, Artman, Chuck Jordan and Raymond Wong were a part of the group they called the “Show Patrol.” They gathered on Sunday afternoons to watch a matinee but generally spent their time talking about politics in and around Greenville.
Former Greenville Chamber of Commerce Director and Main Street Greenville director Betty Lynn Cameron said Artman was a tireless worker.
“He was light on his feet,” Cameron said. “But heavy on his determination to get things done.
Cameron recounted a story of the work done to secure the founding of GHEC.
“We had put together all our marketing materials and made a trip to Jackson to present to Charlie Capps (Whom the Capps Center in Indianola is named in honor) and Paul and I were standing on the second floor of the Capital Rotunda. I watched Mr. Capps walk by a large garbage can on the first floor and he dropped our materials right in the garbage. I screamed his named from the second. Paul got so mad at me I thought he was going to throw me over the rails. He didn’t want anything to hurt our chances of getting the GHEC,” Cameron said.
Greenville Council member Al Brock said Artman had his hands in so many projects in Greenville.
“He made a major impact on this community that a lot of people may forget,” Brock said.
During his time with the Chamber of Commerce and council, Artman would help to organize yearly lobbying trips to Washington D.C.
Community groups held meetings in advance of those trips and set out specific plans for their meetings with representatives.
Brock said a direct result of those trips is the new bridge over the Mississippi River in Greenville.
Brock also said Artman was an innovative promoter of Greenville.
Another yearly opportunity for Greenville to promote itself was during a Southeastern region trade show for retail and other businesses.
Artman had a booth designed to look like a shotgun house and served hot tamales. Artman was also influential in developing the downtown entertainment district on Walnut Street.
“He was a consummate politician,” Brock said. “And always professional.”