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Thursday, March 13, 2014

James Addison Jones I: last period of life


Last Period of Life

Into the life of this man who gave of himself so unreservedly in business, church, and civic affairs, more sorrow was destined to came. In 1933 or 1934, "Miss Maude", his third wife, underwent surgery for the removal of one breast, as it was found to have a malignant growth. The family were informed that she could live at best six years or less, as she had the disease in an advanced stage. This was a severe blow to my father, then sixty-four or sixty-five years old. But other terrible events were yet to come.

On May 4, 1935, Johnie, Dad's then favorite son, was drowned in the lake at Lake Lure, North Carolina. This was a terrific blow to my father. Working daily with Johnie in the office, he had formed a close attachment to him and had high hopes for him. Johnie, entering the office of the company after a year at a business college, quickly mastered the office routine and did the work of two men easily. He was energetic, intelligent, friendly, good natured, and hard-working, and he had endeared himself to my father more than my other brothers had at that time. The fact that his body was not found for two or three days made his tragic death even more terrible. Again a coffin lay in state in the parlor of "the big house" (as we children called our home), and again a man who had buried a baby son, two wives, and his eldest daughter, now had to see his favorite son be put into the ground. Dad was sixty-six years old then, and he felt Johnie's loss deeply. He was also concerned for his grandson, Johnie Jr., who was six years old at the time.

In 1934 or 1935, Dad bought a cottage on the water front at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and gave it to "Miss Maude". Both she and Dad took a lot of interest in this cottage and enjoyed spending the summers there for the next five or six years. There were six bedrooms in the house, all of which were occupied all of the summer. Married children, relatives, and friends were invited there in a continuous stream. I believe "Miss Maude" got more pleasure out of running this beach home, even, than she did the home in Charlotte. Both she and Dad seemed to enjoy those summers a lot, and of course the young folks in the family reveled in the sea-shore life.

In April, 1941, my father was bereaved again, and another coffin lay in honor in the parlor. Miss Maude fought a brave fight for six or seven years and was not helpless until near the end, but her battle against cancer was hopeless. Again, this man, now seventy-one, had to suffer the heartbreak of losing a wife, his third, but this time he was faced with the loneliness and emptiness of a big house without any family. However, he preferred to stay there. He would not consent to even visit around among his married children, much less live with them.

By this time, I believe, or shortly thereafter, all the children had married and left home except Charles, and he was a freshman at Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Four marriages occurred within a year. Dorothy married George Robinson Smith, Jr.; Emma Renn married Seaborn Wright; Helen married Morton Funkhouser; and Robert married Betty Waldron. I believe it was several years later, probably in 1946 or 1947 that Charles was married to Mary Faison Lambeth, niece of Edwin's wife, Annabel.


My great-grandmother, Lucille Hubbard Jones


My great-grandfather, Raymond Allen Jones, Sr.

I have already mentioned Edwin's marriage to Annabel Lambeth in 1915. Other marriages in the family were as follows: Raymond's' marriage to Lucille Hubbard occurred about 1920. I was married to Hugh Dudley Ussery in 1930, and Frank married Allene Pittard about two years later. James buried his first wife in 1930 and in 1935 married Virginia Laseter. Paul married Margaret Hyland about 1936, and Berryman, the bachelor of the family for many years, was married in 1938, to Janet Stimpson.

After "Miss Maude's" death, Dad lost interest in life around him for several months. He suffered from many ailments that were chronic and subject to quick flare-ups, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis. Although he felt bad then, he usually managed to go to the office every day and at least do a half-day's work. But, for the first time I can recall, he seemed to feel sorry for himself--a rare thing for this man who had suffered so much and had overcome so many obstacles.

Fortunately, this period in his life was short. I was delighted to hear that he was courting again, and all the family were as happy as I was when he persuaded Miss Rose Walsh, age fifty, to marry him, January 16, 1942. He was seventy-two then, but he was very active and energetic and did not seem that old. "Miss Rose", as we affectionately call her, was as devoted to my father as his other wives had been, and he was devoted to her. She gave him much happiness the last eight years of his life and made these years ones of comfort, affectionate care, and companionship. He stayed active in his business, in church, and at home, and never really began to be feeble until the winter before he died.

From his seventy-fifth through his eightieth birthday (his last), there was a family reunion in his honor on each birthday. These family get-togethers were great and happy occasions for all concerned and seemed to bring much happiness to him. Since his death, the family has held three or four reunions, the last one in June, 1958.

His seventy-fifth birthday on August 20, 1944, was also celebrated with an employees' testimonial dinner in his honor and in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of the J. A. Jones Construction Company. This, I believe, he placed as one of the many happy highlights of his long and eventful life. His employees gave him a beautiful watch that night--a gift that meant much to him.

Also, in that same year, he had the honor of accepting the highest award the Maritime Commission bestows--the Maritime "M". In accepting this award, he turned to the crowd and said,
"During celebrations of this kind we often overlook the part the women at home play in our success. In my opinion, these women should share in every award we receive here today".
In accepting the Army-Navy "E" award for Speed and Economy during World War II, Jim Jones is reported to have turned to the crowd and said,
"Here are the people who deserve this, for they have earned it".

On April 10, 1948, all of his children were present with him and Miss Rose (and also many of the grandchildren) for the dedication of the James Addison Jones Library at Brevard College, Brevard, North Carolina. (The money for this library was donated by the J. A. Jones Construction Company.) Bishop Clare Purcell, presiding bishop of the Charlotte area of the Methodist Church, paid high
tribute to my father in his dedicatory address. Dad said then, "This has been one of the most enjoyable days of my life".


During the winter of 1949-1950, Dad had several bouts with colds and influenza which weakened him and a mild stroke which affected him slightly on one side. The final blow, however, was the sudden death of his second son, Raymond, who died from a stroke, while on a business trip for the company in Bolivia. His death occurred on May 8, 1950, when he was fifty-five years old. His death was too great a sorrow for an old man, already in poor health. However, Dad remained active up until the last week of his life, even going to the office three days before his death. He died suddenly and quietly of a cerebral hemorrhage at 7:46p.m., Thursday, May 20th, 1950, at the age of eighty. His death occurred only twelve days after Raymond died.

Now this wonderful old man, who had seen so many of his loved ones taken from him, was at rest. Hundreds came to the "big house" to do him honor as his body lay in state in the coffin in the parlor. Many more hundreds sent floral offerings to show their respect or affection for him. As we rode to the cemetery, with car after car filled with his family and his friends, I overheard a woman remark, "He sho' must have been a great man". James Addison Jones was survived by his fourth wife, eleven of his fifteen children, and by twenty-six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Today, his eleven children are still living, the grandchildren have increased to thirty-one in number, and the great-grandchildren now number eighteen.


{this post continues with the text of Minnie B. Jones Ussery, who wrote this in 1960}

4 comments:

  1. My late husband, James Conrad Jones was the son of J.A. Jones's son, Berryman Jones. Jim died January 30, 2012,

    I have several pieces of J.A. Jones Construction memorabilia that his siblings aren't interested in and Jim didn't have any children. There are several "yearbooks", a coffee mug, several belt buckles that I would very much like to donate to family or a museum that could use them. If you know of anyone who is interested I'd be happy to donate them.

    Sincerely, Jonni L. Jones

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    1. Jonni! So wonderful for you to reach out. I am the same girl you have corresponded with on Ancestry.com. I just sent you an Ancestry.com message with my address. I would love to have these donations so I can add them to our growing, private family collection. Thank you for offering them!

      Best wishes,
      Whitney

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  2. My grandfather was William Franklin (Frank) Jones, and my mother, Patricia, still talks about her "Aunt Minnie B," the author of this piece.

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    Replies
    1. Janet - I would love for you to contact me again or email me! I am always looking to connect with more of my extended family. We would be second cousins so I hope you will email me: worthystyle -at- gmail -dot- com.

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