COLUMBUS GROVE — For 17 years he was the engine that drove the Allen County Fair, and for nearly eight years he served as an Allen County Commissioner.
Allen County lost a true friend Monday evening with the death of Jay Begg, who succumbed to injuries he sustained from an accident at his home 11 months ago.
Begg was first elected Allen County commissioner in November 2012 after 17 years of serving as the Allen County Fair manager and time as president of the Allen County Farm Bureau. He won a second term as commissioner in 2016, which was ultimately cut short by the November 2019 accident. Begg formally resigned from office in March 2020.
The Columbus Grove native was active in Allen County agriculture for decades and was inducted into the Allen County Fair Agricultural Society Hall of Fame in 2016.
Begg “would meet you on the level that you were on,” said Chad Hughes, incoming manager of the Allen County Fair. “He believed in people and finding their greatest talents, and then letting them flourish.”
Begg’s tenure with the fair, Hughes said, offered a vision for how the Allen County Fair and Allen County at-large could prosper and grow together, without losing sight of the fair’s history.
As commissioner, Begg could win over a room and bring opposing sides to a resolution, Allen County Republican Party Chair Keith Cheney said on Tuesday.
“Just to be around Jay made one feel better,” Cheney said. “He had a God-given ability to be an individual that was knowledgeable and yet was always willing to listen and share his thoughts. Our community has truly lost a patriot that will be sorely missed in Allen County.”
Allen County Commissioner Cory Noonan said “you can’t replace a man of his stature.” Noonan took office for the first time alongside Begg in January 2013. “He had a way about him. I was on several of those (meetings) where the discussion was a good debate, and then has a way about him that was able to walk out of this room or walk out of the restaurant.”
Begg will be “sorely missed” for his contributions to Allen County and his “true dedication to service,” said fellow Commissioner Beth Seibert, who was appointed in June to finish the final months of Begg’s term.
Flags were lowered to half-mast on Tuesday in honor of Begg.