YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) — Jim Traficant’s wife, Tish Traficant, admitted that she had to be talked into it, and said her husband was adamant about not having a memorial service when he died.
“And then it was explained to me; that it was more of a celebration of his life,” said Traficant.
The former Tish Choppa first met “Jimbo” when she was 15. It was 1958 and he was two years older. They married ten years later and often talked of growing old together.
“I said you’re gonna break the rules. And he said, ‘Well, if so, I want to go before you, ’cause i don’t want to live without you.’ And I would always jokingly say, ‘Okay, you win. You can go first.’ Never dreaming of this,” she said.
The longtime Valley Congressman was gravely hurt in late September in what she still calls a “freak” accident at the family’s farm in Greenford.
“He called me, said ‘I’m on my way home, I’ll be home within the hour.’ I waited, and waited. Started calling him, didn’t answer,” explained Traficant.
Days later, after arranging for organ and tissue donations, she said goodbye.
“Waited as long as I could wait, and then decided we were going to remove everything, and let him pass peacefully. Which he did,” said Traficant.
Now, she relies on her memories of the husband, father and more recently, grandfather, that most never saw.
“There was laughter. Always in our house. And we bantered back and forth all the time. And we’d laugh about it. We had a happy home. Very happy life,” she said.
While she said she rarely talked politics with her husband, she knew he had his critics.
“Everyone can have an opinion about him, he really didn’t care either. And neither did it; it’s their problem, it’s not mine,” said Traficant.
And of course, there was always his hair.
“Oh my gosh, I used to say to him, ‘One of us looks good,’ everytime he left. That was a joke,” she said.
In the weeks since his death, Traficant said she’s thankful for the community’s outpouring of support, including more than 300 letters.
“It was a good month before I could open them, because I think you’re in denial. I was waiting for him to come home, but when I read all those things that he did, I would laugh,” said Traficant.
She said that in the end, she hopes people will remember her husband for the things he did for others, many he never spoke of, saying that’s how it should be.