PICKENS, Miss. (AP) — Pickens Mayor Joel Gill, who was a past candidate for Mississippi agriculture commissioner and U.S. congress, has died in a car accident. He was 61.
Mississippi Highway Patrol Sgt. Ben Williams said Gill's car ran off Mississippi Highway 17 near Pickens on Thursday afternoon and struck a tree, but it's not clear what caused the accident.
Gill's wife, Ann Gill, said Friday morning that her husband was a kind man and his death came as a shock. She said funeral arrangements haven't been made.
"He was so kind. He would help anybody," she said.
Gill, a Democrat, was elected mayor in 2009 and had served as an alderman twice in Pickens, a small town about 50 miles north of Jackson.
Gill was the Democratic candidate in last year's race for commissioner of agriculture, losing to Republican challenger Cindy Hyde-Smith. He had also run for congress in the past.
A campaign website for Gill said he was born in St. Joseph, Mo., and came to Mississippi in 1963. He graduated from Millsaps College with a degree in physics and astronomy in 1973.
The website said Gill was part of a family cattle business, Mississippi Order Buyers Inc., which deals in six states and grossed more than $30 million a year.
He was a Pickens alderman from 1989 to 1993 and again from 2005 to 2009, when he was elected mayor. He had also served with the Holmes County Chamber of Commerce, the Mississippi Beef Council and R-Calf USA — Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America.