A bronze bust of a Tri-Citian known for a lifetime of community service will be installed in the lobby of the Trios Care Center at Southridge on what would have been his 100th birthday.
[blockquote quote="He led a life of service." source="Darren Szendre, president of the Trios Foundation on George Jones" align="right" max_width="300px"]
George Jones’ legacy will be remembered and his likeness unveiled during a ceremony on Thursday, Feb. 16.
The Kennewick man’s long list of accomplishments include being named Tri-Citian of the Year in 1997, Kennewick Man of the Year in 1978 and El Katif’s Shriner of the Year in 1998.
Jones died on May 4, 2016.
“He’s second to none as far as his drive to make the Tri-Cities a better place, the community a better place. His service and his time and his money — well, he put his money where his mouth was. He gave to causes he asked others to give to. He led a life of service,” said Darren Szendre, president of the Trios Foundation.
The foundation board unanimously agreed to commission the sculpture to honor Jones, a longtime Trios Foundation board member.
“He’s just been such an integral part of our group and the Trios Foundation for so many years and has been instrumental in raising money for the foundation, which then directly supports the community, the hospital, the employees and doctors and nurses who work at the hospital.
“He’s a phenomenal person; he’s been like a mentor to me as I joined Trios Foundation. He taught me and so many others there on the board. He’s just got a great reputation for his philanthropy and his service in the community,” Szendre said.
The foundation raised money for the bronze by selling raffle tickets for a guided fishing trip, Szendre said. The money did not come out of the foundation’s budget, which Jones’ wife insisted upon.
Pat Johnstone Jones of Kennewick provided several photographs of her late husband to artist Tom McClelland of Benton County for the sculpture.
“I wanted to capture some sense of his humor and kindness because those were two things I heard over and over about him,” McClelland said.
Johnstone Jones was overcome with emotion when she saw the clay original.
“I knew when she saw it and she got teary eyed, I knew it succeeded in what I wanted it to do … She was so moved. That to me is gratifying because it means I’ve succeeded as an artist,” McClelland said.
Johnstone Jones closely followed the progress of the bust, traveling to the T. Hunter Bronze foundry in Walla Walla and knocking off the ceramic material with a sledgehammer to reveal the bronze casting that immortalizes the life of the man who cared deeply about the Tri-Cities.
“He was a very special man and I loved him so much. I’m so proud of George and all that he did, and the fact that the hospital foundation wanted to do this made me feel good,” Johnstone Jones said.
Jones’ philanthropic efforts were well known in the community. His philosophy was always to be direct and ask, whether it was for donations, to join a service club or to volunteer time.
Jones was a longtime Shriner, Kiwanian, Kennewick planning commissioner and Port of Kennewick commissioner. He helped raise money for the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, Kennewick General Hospital, Kennewick Family Medicine Clinic and the new Trios Southridge Hospital.
He served as a board member for the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tri-City Development Council, cancer center foundation and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Tri-Cities.
He and Gene Spaulding Sr. played a key role in getting the East Benton County Historical Museum built in Kennewick. He and Bright Bowe convinced Columbia Center mall officials to donate coins thrown into the mall fountains to the Shriners Hospital for Children in Spokane. Each month, Jones picked up the coins to wash and sort them.
Jones moved to the Tri-Cities in 1947 and built a frozen-food locker rental business in downtown Kennewick with his first wife Maxine, who died in 2001.
He married Johnstone Jones in 2004.
The Kennewick woman credits her late husband with changing not only the community but her life for the better.
“I became a better person because of George. He taught me that you get out of the community what you put into it,” she said.
The bronze bust of the late George Jones will be unveiled during a ceremony from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Trios Care Center at Southridge, 3730 Plaza Way, in Kennewick.
Jones would have turned 100 on this day.
Special recognition and memories will be shared. Light refreshments will be served.
RSVP by calling 509-221-5776 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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