JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — In a day that “belongs to Governor Nixon,” local dignitaries gathered at the Missouri Capitol to unveil the portrait of the state’s 55th chief executive.
“From our state parks to our factory floors, from our small schools to our biggest universities, Jay Nixon made a difference,” Sen. Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, told a standing-room-only crowd. “Without a doubt, he left Missouri a better place than when he found it and for that we are extremely grateful — well done.”
Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon was recognized Thursday with his official portrait honoring his service as Missouri’s governor.
Todd Richardson, Speaker of the House, said, “Good people in public office make a difference and I am proud to have had the chance to serve with a good person in the governor’s office.”
Nixon spent 30 years in elected positions.
“I am grateful for the opportunity provided to me by the people of our great state,” Nixon said.
He served six years in the Missouri Senate, 16 years as the state’s attorney general and eight years as governor.
“All these pictures make up a portrait of a man who loves Missouri and the people who live and dwell here,” Walsh said, describing Nixon’s time visiting Joplin in the wake of the 2011 tornado, fighting every day for every job and the miles he traveled hiking and canoeing in Missouri.
“My rule and credo was very simple,” Nixon stated, “if it was fair and right and best for the people of our great state. We focused on making things better for generations to come.”
Nixon went on to describe his administration as endeavoring to improve the lives of people who would never know what he did or who he was.
“Decades from now kids will come to this Capitol for tours and they will look at these portraits and they may not know who each governor was or exactly what they did but maybe, just maybe, they will get the sense that they, like all of us, are part of something that is larger than ourselves,” Gov. Eric Greitens said.
The Missouri River and the state’s Capitol building can be seen in the background of a smiling Nixon in the portrait that will join 54 others in the Capitol.
“It was a challenge balancing the status of the office with his personality,” painter Bill Neukomn described. “I know it’s not typical of official portraits, but I decided to go with him smiling because that just seemed part of who he is.”
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.