Lewis A. Jones Sr., Ph.D., a retired United States Air Force lieutenant colonel, died on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. He was 89.
He was born on July 29, 1928. He was preceded in death by his mother, Anna Jones Thomas, and stepfather, Joshua Thomas.
Jones loved his family and all sports. He played at the highest level in sports and accomplished many firsts in his life.
Jones earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1943 at age 15. He was among the largest group of Black scouts to earn the Eagle Scout Badge in the history of the Boy Scouts of America at that time.
Jones graduated from Crooms Academy in 1947. The high school had no science lab, library, cafeteria or indoor basketball, volleyball or tennis courts. Despite those inadequacies, his graduating class had teachers, carpenters, lawyers and doctors among its members. Forty-three of the 47 graduates went to college.
As a first-year high school coach, Jones took his team to State of Florida Black High School Baseball Playoffs, where they were first runner-up. Three players from that team earned scholarships to play baseball in college.
Jones was the first athlete to earn a baseball scholarship from Florida A&M University. As a freshman, he batted .419, and led the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in batting, which earned him a starting position on the SAIC Conference team. After graduating from FAMU, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a private, where he retired as a lieutenant colonel after serving 37 years on active duty in the Air National Guard.
During his time in the Air National Guard, Jones started an overnight summer camp for 50 needy students in the Trenton, N.J., area. The program eventually grew to more than 200 students and was supported by N.J. Governor William T. Cahill. Eventually, the camp spread to almost every state in the nation.
Jones also served as the first executive assistant to the chief of the National Guard Bureau at the Pentagon. One of his primary goals was to increase the number of minority officers in the U.S. Army and Air National Guard. He started with .05 percent minority officers, and after two years, the number increased to 9 percent.
In order to take the job at the Pentagon, Jones had to take a leave of absence from his job as an elementary school principal in Trenton. While at the Pentagon, he applied for principalships in five metropolitan counties around the Washington, D.C., area. Every district offered him a job except the District of Columbia. Jones accepted a job in Montgomery County, Md., where he spent 25 years as an educational leader. He was nominated for “Principal of the Year” by The Washington Post.
Jones played and managed in all divisions of the recreation softball league in The Villages Florida. Lew and Barbara were the co-founders of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee.
He married his longtime family friend, Barbara, and moved to Florida, where they currently reside. Their children and grandchildren reside throughout the Northeast area of the United States.
He was married to Olga Spears and one daughter was born to their union, Kirsten A. Jones, who graduated from Hofstra University.
He was married to Ella Mae Kinard and four children were born to their union: Hanford B. Jones, who graduated from Southern University; Lewis A. Jones Jr.; Michelle A. Jones, who graduated from California State University of Fullerton; and Felice Y. Framo, who graduated from Temple University.
He is also survived by: his grandchildren, Vincent J. Framo, Michael L. Framo, Nicholas B. Framo, Telana Jones and Scooter; stepdaughter, Cathy (Rick) and grandchildren, Jack, Kate, Bobby, Annie and Happy; stepson, Al (Christine) and grandchildren, Lauren, Allie and Kylie; stepdaughter, Tricia (Tim) and grandchildren, Ryan, Grace and Luke; and cousin, Bernice Baeye.
Services will be held Friday at noon at Hiers-Baxley Funeral & Cremation Life Event Center, 3975 Wedgewood Lane, The Villages, Fla.