ABMA Mourns the Passing of William "Ralph" Jones, Jr
Tue June 9, 2020
William “Ralph” Jones, Jr.
(November 2, 1924 – June 4, 2020)
William Ralph Jones, Jr., died peacefully at his home in Humboldt, TN, on June 4, 2020, at age 95.
Mr. Jones was born in Selma, Alabama, to William Ralph Jones, Sr., and Josie Bell Wallis Jones on November 2, 1924. In 1925, after his father’s (Ralph Sr.) grocery store burned, Ralph Jr. moved to Humboldt with his mother and father. In Humboldt, Ralph Sr., began work with his father (George Henry Jones); joining him in the textile weaving plant owned by Hunter Commissioning Company.
Ralph Jr. attended Humboldt City Schools through the 11th grade and graduated from Columbia Military Academy in 1942. Upon graduation, he enrolled in Auburn University and enlisted in the U.S. Army in December 1942. After enlistment he participated in the Army Specialized Training Program at Oklahoma State University and the University of Mississippi. During WWII he served in the 3rd Army, 94th Infantry Division, 376th Infantry Regiment, in the European Theatre. While in service to his country, he earned the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, European Theatre Ribbon with 4 Battle Stars, and the Presidential Unit Citation. His unit experienced 236 consecutive days of continuous engagement with the enemy before and during the Battle of the Bulge as well as the days in the breakout afterwards. At the time, those were the longest consecutive days of continuous engagement by a unit since the Civil War. In November of 1945 he was Honorably Discharged from the U.S. Army and returned to Humboldt.
Beginning in 1946 he enrolled in the Textile Engineering program at North Carolina State University and obtained his engineering degree in 1949. After graduation he entered the family business of Jones Manufacturing Company becoming the 3rd generation of his family in textiles. The business was founded in 1936 by his dad and uncle, W.F. Jones, Sr. At the time, it recycled textile mill byproducts into coarse count industrial spun yarns. Today the Jones Family of Companies produces nonwoven fabrics and industrial yarns with locations in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Nevada. He retired after over 50 years of service and while having had served as President, CEO, and Chairman of the company.
In 1947 he married the love of his life, Bettie Jean “BJ” Graves from Humboldt. She preceded him in death in 2016 after 69 years of marriage. They had 4 children, Jeanne Walton Jones Little (deceased)(Stan), Barbara Clayton Jones Thomas (deceased)(Gary), Elizabeth Wallis Jones, and William Ralph Jones III (Camille). From these children they had 11 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. He had one brother, Edgar Wallis Jones, that preceded him in death.
During his lifetime in Humboldt he served throughout the community and touched innumerable lives. His service included member (12 yrs.) and Chair (6 yrs.) of the Humboldt City School Board where he was named “Tennessee outstanding School Board Member”. During his tenure current day East Elementary school, Stigall Primary school, and Davis Memorial Gym were constructed. He served as President of the Humboldt Chamber of Commerce when the former NCR manufacturing plant was recruited to Humboldt. As President of the Humboldt Jaycee’s, the club took over the operations of the Humboldt Little League where they provided coaches, umpires, concessions, and field maintenance. He further served the youth of Humboldt by coaching 17 years in Humboldt Little League and coaching 12 years in the Humboldt PeeWee Basketball League. He also served on the committee to locate and raise the finances for a new park in Humboldt that eventually became Spangler Park. For his work within youth sports and the Humboldt School System; the football field house at Humboldt High School was named in his honor and he was inducted into the Gibson County Sports Hall of Fame. The Exchange club also recognized his community service by bestowing on him the “Book of Golden Deeds” and he was further recognized as the official Honoree of the 1993 West Tennessee Strawberry Festival.
His Christian faith has always served as a resource for strength throughout his life. He has remained a dedicated member of Sugar Creek Baptist Church and served as a Deacon since 1952. For over 20 years he taught Sunday School to youth while also assuming multiple additional roles over the years.
While in the U.S. Army, his commanding officer asked him, “where are you from soldier?” His response….” the center of the universe……Humboldt, Tennessee”. He was forever thankful for the richness of life he experienced in his hometown. His actions spoke clearly of his faith in God, love of Country, love of family, and love for his community. Friends and co-workers have enriched the experiences of his life and lessened the pain of hardships. He freely shared his faith and befriended the less fortunate. He lived a rich life.
The family would like to give special thanks to those that ministered with love to him; James McKnight, Randy Healy, and Greta Kent. They loved our Gran well.
In memory of Ralph Jones, Jr.’s love of Humboldt’s youth, the family would request that all memorials be directed to the Boys & Girls Club of Humboldt, P.O. Box 851, Humboldt, TN, 38343.
A celebration of life service will be held at the Church at Sugar Creek in Humboldt, TN, on Friday, June 12th, at 2pm. In light of honoring social distancing there will be no visitation hours. A graveside service will follow at Rose Hill Cemetery in Humboldt, TN.
Shelton-Hunt Funeral Home