Obituary for Lester C. Jones
WWII naval veteran, Lester Charles Jones, 94, of Scottsbluff, set sail on his final voyage home to meet his Savior on June 6, 2017. A celebration honoring Lester’s life will be held Tuesday, June 13, 2017 at Calvary Memorial Church, in Gering, at 10:00 a.m. with Pastor Gary Hashley officiating. Please wear patriotic colors in honor of Lester’s service to and love for his country. Interment will follow at Fairview Cemetery in Scottsbluff. The United States Navy will provide military funeral honors. Visitation will be held Monday, June 12, 2017 at Jolliffe Funeral Home in Scottsbluff from 1:00 p.m.–7:00 p.m. Memorials for Les have been designated to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and to Regional West Hospice.
Les was born on December 23, 1922 in Torrington, WY to Walter A. and Altha Malora Jones. He joined two older sisters, Inez and Bernardine, with whom he remained close his whole life. After graduating from Torrington High School in 1941, and following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Les chose to enlist in the United States Navy, serving as a turret gunner on a Navy Avenger in the South Pacific for the duration of the conflict there. Upon his honorable discharge, Les returned home to Torrington, where he would meet and, later, marry his wife, Thelma Arlene Blunt. Married July 27, 1947, Les and Thelma celebrated 41 years of marriage until her death from cancer in March of 1989.
Once married, Les and Thelma moved to Chadron, NE where Les studied Secondary Education at Chadron State College, while Thelma worked as the secretary for Dr. Hildreth, the chair of the Education Department. A proud Eagle, Les graduated from Chadron State College with his teaching degree in 1949. In 2007, Les, his daughter, Roxann, and his grandson, Tyler Thompson, were honored with the Chadron State College Family Tree Award, which recognizes families that have attended CSC for three generations. All three majored in Secondary Education.
After graduating from Chadron State in 1949, Les and Thelma moved to Mitchell, where he secured his first teaching job at Mitchell High School. During his six year tenure there, Les taught American History and Civics and served as the varsity boys football, basketball, and track coach. During their time in Mitchell, Les and Thelma welcomed their daughter Roxann in 1952. Following his tenure at Mitchell, Les and Thelma moved to Scottsbluff when Les accepted a teaching job in Scottsbluff, where he taught and coached at Scottsbluff High School for six years. In 1956, Les and Thelma were blessed with the arrival of their son Kelly. After 12 years of teaching and coaching, Les left the field of education to pursue a career in the life insurance business. Though no longer a school teacher, Les considered his time spent teaching and coaching as some of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of his professional career. Until his death, Les took great pleasure in visiting with many of his former students and athletes, who graciously described him as one of their favorite teachers.
Beginning in the early 1960s, until his advancing age made daily work too difficult, Les worked fulltime as a life insurance agent for Bankers Life of Nebraska and, then, for Ameritas. A Million Dollar Round Table award winner, Les built a successful business and worked as a part of the C.A. Anderson Agency for many years. Later, Les and his son-in-law, Michael Thompson, shared adjoining offices at Railway Plaza. Both Les and Mike then went to work at Valley Insurance in Gering.
Though a dedicated businessman, Les still made time for family, friends, and hobbies. An avid golfer, Les enjoyed golfing several times a week. After Thelma’s death in 1989, Lester befriended a group of fellow widowers, meeting weekly with these special friends for meals and rounds of golf. This group of gentlemen, which included Dr. Ken Johnson, Bud Neifert, George Haskell, and Dr. James Hayhurst, and later Ted Cannon and Dr. Robert Graves, provided wonderful companionship and support. Lester especially looked forward to their Thursday evening get-togethers.
Later in life, Les developed a special and enduring relationship with Ruth Jones, whom he considered his dear friend and companion. Together, he and Ruth would go dancing at the Elks Lodge, watch football and basketball games, attend church, and share meals. As Les’s health declined, Ruth faithfully shuttled Les to doctors’ appointments, took him shopping for groceries, and stocked his fridge with homemade meals and desserts.
Above all, Lester prized his relationship with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. His faith in Christ was nurtured early in his life, when his mother, Altha, would read him Bible stories before bed. As an adult, he placed his faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and it would be this deep and abiding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that would sustain him through Thelma’s death and his own declining health. Rising early every morning to read his Bible and to pray for his family and friends, Lester faithfully attended first St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and later, Calvary Memorial Church, which has been his church home for the past 15 years.
During his final months of life, following hospitalization for first a heart attack and then a bout with influenza and pneumonia, Lester transitioned to his new home at Heritage Estates where he and his family were all blessed by the compassionate, loving, and attentive care he received from the nurses and staff in Heritage Estates’ Spruce Neighborhood, as well as the friendship of his fellow Spruce Neighbors.
Les was an amazing father and mentor to his children and his grandchildren, who were the blessed recipients of his unconditional love, sound wisdom, gentle guidance, and delightful sense of humor. His captivating bedtime stories were never from books, but from his arsenal of personal experiences growing up during the Great Depression and serving in the United States Navy during World War II, as well as his extensive love for and knowledge of American and World History. Ever the teacher and coach, Les molded and shaped his children’s and grandchildren’s spiritual development, intellect, imagination, work ethic, and character, and on occasion, lovingly, but firmly, applied “the board of education.” We are so grateful for his godly influence, his unconditional love, his fervent prayers on our behalf, and his deep and abiding love for Christ.
Les was preceded in death by his wife of 41 years, Thelma Jones; his parents, Walter and Altha Jones of Torrington, WY; infant brothers Forrest and Richard, sisters Inez Coleman of Guernsey, WY, and Bernadine Greenlaw of Cloverdale, CA, as well as by his in-laws, Burr and Bertha Carlisle of Hawk Springs, WY; brothers-in-law James Blunt, Glenn Blunt, Herschel (Coley) Coleman, and Dick Greenlaw; sisters-in-law Esther Muesch and Phyllis Marlatt; nieces Linda Sue Blunt, Leann Blunt, and Glenda Rae Blunt, and numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins.
Les is survived by his special friend of more than 13 years, Ruth Jones, of Scottsbluff; daughter Roxann and her husband, Michael Thompson of Scottsbluff; son Kelly and his wife, Dody Jones, of Paso Robles, CA; three grandsons, Tyler Thompson of Scottsbluff, and Tyler and Chase Jones of Paso Robles, CA.; his niece Meredith (Coleman) Sackett of Casper, WY and her daughters Donna, Valerie, and Lisa and their families; his niece Ronnie Kay Brown and her husband Wayne of Torrington, WY and Mesa, AZ; his niece Lynn Johnson of Paso Robles, CA; his great-nieces Kim Parrott and her husband Blaine and their children Taylor and Austin Parrott of Arvada, CO, and Kristi Vasko and her children Laine and Wyatt Vasko of Pine Bluffs, WY; his great-nephew Rick Brown and his wife Michelle and their children Carli and Dawson of Mesa, AZ; and his sister-in-law Fran Blunt and her family of Northglenn, CO.