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By Barbara Carmen

Jerry Hammond, a formidable past president of Columbus City Council and a passionate supporter of the arts, died early this morning.

Hammond, 76, had battled Parkinson’s disease for nearly a decade.

“If Harlem had Adam Clayton Powell, Jerry Hammond was as close to an Adam Clayton Powell as our community would ever know,” the Rev. John Coats said. “He was the swashbuckling politician that the community could touch and feel.”

Hammond was appointed to a council seat in 1974 and elected president in 1984. He held that position until resigning from council in 1990.

Hammond was as well known for holding court with friends at the old Marble Gang restaurant on Thursday nights as he was for his ferocious battles with Republican Mayor Dana G. “Buck” Rinehart.

Hammond, a Democrat, was born Charles G. Hammond and raised in poverty in South Bend. Ind. He was only 4 when his father left home.

“Jerry was a person who deeply cared about his community, and he was a champion of working-class people,” lawyer Larry James said.

James, who met Hammond in 1978 when James was working in the Columbus city attorney’s office, credited Hammond with “working doggedly” to diversify the city workforce.

Funeral arrangements are pending. Hammond is survived by his wife, Mary Jo Green, and two grown children.

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