Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Neil Jones' Obituary

We were all saddened by the death of our classmate, Neil Jones.  Neil was not only one of the most academically gifted students in the CHS Class of 1954, but a very fine athlete as well, performing quite well as the starting center on the Wildcat football team.  He will be missed.

Frederick O’Neil Jones

Neil Jones
WADESBORO, N.C. — Frederick O’Neil Jones, better known to all as Neil Jones, passed away June 4 at Union County Hospice with his loving family at his bedside. He is survived by son, Matt Jones, of Wadesboro; daughter, Holly Jones of Asheville, son-in-law Bob Falls of Asheville, and granddaughter, Gabriela Jones of Asheville. Also surviving are former spouses, Diana Burge of Asheboro and Linda Jones of Wadesboro, who both remained Neil’s friends and confidantes until his death. He also leaves behind four dear stepchildren, Paige Taylor of Raleigh, Ellen Huntley of Norwood, John Dosser of Charlotte, and Katherine Hoover of Raleigh.

Neil, the son of Jake and Margaret Jones, grew up in Charlotte and graduated from Central High School. He attended Duke University on both an Angier B. Duke Scholarship and NROTC scholarship, graduating in 1958. Upon graduation, he entered the US Navy serving 1958-1961 as a Lieutenant. He then temporarily shirked his Blue Devil ways and attended UNC-Chapel Hill law school as a Van Hecke Scholar, graduating in 1964.

Neil and his family moved to Wadesboro in 1964 where he began practicing law with respected attorney and statesman, Pat Taylor. Upon arriving in Anson County, he quickly found his true home. There was no greater advocate for Anson County than Neil Jones. He was involved in many civic projects over his 52 years of residence. A sampling of his service includes, serving as Wadesboro town attorney from 1968-1973, County Commissioner from 2002-2006 and Sandhills Mental Health Board member 2007-2012. He was proud to be a resident in the oldest home in Anson County that dated before the Civil War. In his last days, he spoke about wanting his county to “do things right” and made sure he got the latest Anson County Recreation shirt delivered to him at the Ambassador.

Keenly interested in politics, he was a life-long Democrat although he collected a lot of Republican friends along the way. He served in the North Carolina State Senate from 1970-1972.  His proudest accomplishment as a State Senator was spearheading the effort to develop the North Carolina Emergency Medical Care System, which he championed into creation and was Chair of the Emergency Medical Care Commission from 1974-1980. His final political accomplishment came as a staunch advocate for his daughter Holly Jones’ candidacy for Lt Governor. He was extremely proud that Holly won Anson County in the March Democratic primary.

Neil had a long history of dealing with substance abuse. For decades he tried to use his addiction to help others find sobriety. He cherished his AA community knowing that these friends were among his most intimate and devoted. As Chairman of the Substance Abuse Commission for the NC Department of Corrections (1986-1992), he was the champion for the creation of the DART program (Drug Alcohol Rehabilitation Treatment), which continues to this day.

Many will remember him as a boisterous story-teller and indeed he saw this as his greatest God-given capacity. He enjoyed participating in plays and especially playing Winston Churchill, but he did not need a stage to engage an audience.
He also loved reading especially histories concerning the Revolutionary War and Civil War.  Recently, he worked with others to establish historical markers for a forgotten Civil War battlefield in Anson County.  Up until his illness, he was contributing to an article for the NC Historical Review about this discovery. Among his other passions were sports with a special devotion to the Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins, Duke Blue Devils and UNC Tarheels. He also loved classical music and was listening to Chopin at the time of his passing.

Neil Jones was a lifelong fighter for those without resources and he worked hard to build relationships across race and class. He was a long-time member and past Sunday School teacher at First Presbyterian Church, Wadesboro, where his memorial service is planned for June 27 at 2pm. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Anson County Council on Alcoholism, 2177 Country Club Rd, Wadesboro, NC 28170, to sponsor individuals seeking rehabilitation. The greatest contribution that can be offered to the family are stories about their dad. They can be sent toDhjwnc@gmail.com The ultimate tribute to the ultimate storyteller of Anson County.