TAZEWELL, Va. — Tazewell County residents and officials honored a long-time teacher and public servant Thursday evening.
James H. “Jimmy” Jones was presented proclamations by the board of supervisors and school board citing his many years as an educator and 50 years holding an elected or appointed position.
The event was held at the Student Center of the Tazewell County Career & Technical Center.
Jones’ service includes being a member of the board of supervisors for 12 years (seven as chair), school board for eight years, 16 years on the board of the Cumberland Plateau Planning Commission, with leadership roles on all of those boards.
Jones was also a teacher for 36 years, as well as band director at Graham High School and band director and choir director at Pocahontas High School.
In fact, the band room at GHS in named in his honor.
Jones is retiring from the school board at the end of this month but he continues to be a member of the Bluefield Town Council, where he has served for at least 25 years, including the leadership roles of mayor and vice mayor.
“Be it hereby resolved that the Tazewell County School Board sets aside this fifth day of December 2019 as a day to recognize and celebrate the life of public service of James H. Jones,” the resolution, read by school board Chair David Woodard, said. “Be it further resolved that the Tazewell County School Board wishes to extend its sincerest appreciation to Mr. Jones for his unselfish service, unbiased guidance, and constant love for Tazewell County.”
Woodard said that on Jan. 1 when Jones begins the year on the Bluefield Town Council, “he will be starting his 50th year of public service.”
“I can’t imagine, especially in modern history, any one person who has given more of themselves in public service to Tazewell County and Southwest Virginia than Jimmy Jones, and our recognition pales to his meritorious service,” Woodard said.
Eastern District Supervisor Charlie Stacy read the resolution passed by the supervisors, praising his “outstanding public service” and “exceptional leadership,” from 1955 when he first came to GHS to his current service as a member of the Bluefield Town Council.
Stacy said Jones is an “ambassador for our community serving in many capacities.”
“The Tazewell County Board of Supervisors wishes to recognize Mr. Jones for his dedication and his excellent service to the citizens of Tazewell County and express appreciation for his work … and honors Jimmy Jones for his long and distinguished career in local government and for his commitment, dedication and leadership to Tazewell County and Bluefield, Va.”
Caitlin Hutchison, band director at Tazewell High School, credited her own interest in music to Jones’ impact on members of her family through the years.
“Without you, I wouldn’t be me,” she told Jones, adding that his legacy is not just local, it is felt around the country because he has impacted so many students over the decades.
Former schools superintendent Woodrow Mullins said Jones “never looked at the clock,” and worked tirelessly, setting an example as a “role model” band director in Virginia and West Virginia.
“Everybody appreciates the tremendous assets you bring to this county,” he told Jones. “I will always value the contributions you have made to the county.”
Dr. Chris Stacy, the current superintendent of schools, said he was in the fifth-grade the first time he encountered Jones in school.
“He was the band instructor and came around to give a little music test to find out who had an aptitude for it,” he said. “Of course, I didn’t have any aptitude.”
Stacy said he has known Jones and his late wife Pat “just about my entire life.”
Coming up through the ranks and eventually becoming superintendent and working with Jones as a school board member has been special.
“It has been an honor to know and serve with him,” he said. “He is a fixture in Bluefield. He is an icon.”
Stacy said Jones’ name is carried many places.
“Jimmy Jones is known far and wide,” he said. “He has touched a lot of lives. I know they specifically mentioned music tonight, but Mr. Jones being the true gentleman he is had an impact. I was not in band, but he has touched people like me. He has always been a great influence on me. I agree with everybody that he is so level-headed and just an honorable gentleman.”
Jones expressed a humility with all the praise, and credited others for what he accomplished.
“I knew smart people, who were smarter than I was, they pulled me along,” he said.
Jones said he never really did “run” for political office. “I just put my name in there,” he said, and however it turned out was okay by him.
— Contact Charles Boothe at firstname.lastname@example.org