Former WH alderman, businessman remembered as a ‘hard-working gentleman’

WHITE HALL — Those who think there was nothing “spectacular” about the quiet, unassuming Elton R. Jones didn’t truly know the White Hall leader who died Dec. 13, friends and family agree.

“He was spectacularly steady,” White Hall Mayor Noel Foster said of the 85-year-old businessman who served as a White Hall alderman from 1993-96. “He was always dependable, always attentive, always ready to help others. He was a gentleman who always had time to help anyone. His death is a personal loss, and a loss to this city. The entire Jones family is an asset to this community.”

Foster said he had known Jones “for years, since I was a kid.” Foster said he and his brother, Alderman Joel Foster, spent “hours and hours just hanging around” the Jones family’s pet store, which evolved into the present Jones Feed Store at 7004 Dollarway Road. “It didn’t matter if we ever spent a dime or not, we always felt welcome,” said Foster.

“I learned that when he said something, I needed to listen,” Foster said. “Every word he said counted for something. One of the things I most admired about him — in addition to his knowledge of local history — was how respectful he was to everyone. If he agreed with you, he would tell you, and if he disagreed, he would also tell you. But he was just as kind stating the disagreement. That was something he did as long as I knew him, and it impressed me.”

James “Jitters” Morgan, who Foster succeeded as mayor, called Jones a “good, old-fashioned, hard-working, country gentleman.”

“He didn’t let things shake him,” said Morgan. “He was the same pretty well every time you saw him. People trusted him and trusted in him. He was a solid businessman and a good-hearted civic leader. People are going to miss him. I know his customers will really miss seeing his friendly smile the next time they go to the feed store.”

His daughter, Debbie Jones Holder, remembered her father’s kind spirit.

“He was the sweetest, most handsome man in the world to me,” Holder said. “He never met a stranger. He was a compassionate man who more than anything strived to be a friend to everyone. I don’t think you could find anyone who would say anything bad about him.

“The person he was as an alderman was the same as he was with his family and business,” she said. “When someone had a need, he wanted to help them. When a problem was important to them, it was important to him. He loved helping others.”

Jones’ wife of 61 years, Betty Muckleroy Jones, said that even though her husband stayed busy, he always made time to show his affection for her.

“He would give me gifts, and he would always give me red roses,” she shared as tears filled her eyes. “Red roses were his favorite and mine, too. Once, on a special occasion, he gave me two dozen red roses. I’ll never forget that, and I’ll never forget him. He was a wonderful man.”

Other survivors include a son, David Jones; a daughter, Charlotte Jones Taylor; six grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were conducted Sunday at Cornerstone Apostolic Church in White Hall with Zane Issacson and Howard Hudspeth officiating. Burial was by Cranford Funeral Home of White Hall.