Coach Jack Jones

JONES, Cumby ‘Jack’ 87, Father, Teacher, and Coach passed away peacefully on July 27, 2012. Jack was born on April 4, 1925, in Three Sands, Okla., to John and Lodusky Jones.

He spent his first 18 years, in Perry, Okla. At Perry High School, he participated in baseball, basketball, wrestling, and football. His football coach was Gene Boyett, former coach at Desert High School. Ironically, Desert was to be Jacks final teaching and coaching job. He held down a full-time job, at Forneys Dairy, milking and delivering the products, to their store. He received a ‘Perfect Attendance’ certificate from the then-Governor of Oklahoma, for his 12 years of schooling. So, early on, Jack ‘took a keen interest to the school atmosphere.’ He made it a priority, to attend Perry Highs Reunions to coincide with ‘Cherokee Strip Days’, held each September.

After his high school graduation, in June 1943, he joined the Army. He was a Sergeant of ‘B’ Battery of the 87th Armored Field Artillery Battalion (the Jeopard). He commanded a 7-men crew on a 105 – mm Howitzer, mounted on a tank. He served in the European Theater, landing three days after D-Day, in Normandy, France. He was wounded, in 1944, and loved telling stories of ‘catching military hops’ to European cities, while recovering in London. His unit participated in the ‘Battle of the Bulge’ campaign. For his service, he received a Purple Heart, EAME Theater Ribbon and one Silver Service Star. He had attended numerous 87th Reunions, held at various locations, in past years. After the war, Jack returned tto Oklahoma, where he joined the loyal order of the Masons, through the Grand lodge of Guthrie.

He entered apprenticeship in 1946, later that year he made fellow craft, and in 1947, became a master mason. He received the 50 and 65 year devotion awards. Jack returned to school, attending Northern Oklahoma Junior College at Tonkawa, Okla. He transferred to Panhandle A & M, at Goodwell, Okla., where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree, in 1950. His senior year, he met and married Dorothy Ballenger, with whom he shared 33 years of marriage and six children. After a brief move to California, in 1951, he and his family (adding first daughter) returned to Oklahoma. He received his Oklahoma teaching certification, in 1952, and began teaching, Coaching and officiating in Guymon and Alva, Okla., where two more daughters joined the family. Upon settling in Farry, Okla., he taught history, as one of three teachers on staff. He coached football, girls basketball teams, and drove the high schools bus. The lure of California came calling that summer, in 1956. He gained his General Secondary credential, at California State University (Fresno State), in Fresno, Calif., that summer. His first teaching job was, in the fall of 1956, at Kern Valley High School, in Kernville, Calif.

In 1958, the family moved to Palmdale, Calif., where a son and two more daughters were born. While he taught at Palmdale High School for three years, he coached various sports, including football with his life long friend, Martin (Marty) Soliah. It was Marty, who talked him into moving to Foxholm Drive, (where he resided for about 40 years.) From there, it was on to (John) Munz Camp (a Los Angeles Co. juvenile probation camp), in Lake Hughes, Calif., for two years. He would later earn his Master degree from Azusa Pacific University.

Finally, in 1964, he arrived at Desert High School, on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. He became one of the Antelope Valleys first daily commuters, (just heading north, instead of south of LA, traveling about 100 miles,) round trip. His main teaching position was Physical Education, but other subjects included history, math and freshman orientation. Coach Jones had the football, track, and golf teams through out his DHS career. He eventually settled in with his golf teams, as his passion, with the game became an obsession. Deserts golf team won numerous titles, in the High Desert League.

Jack was also a charter member of the Lancaster Chapter of the Mojave Desert Officials Association. His duties had him traveling all over the desert, officiating all sports. A highlight of his officiating career was, in 1969, when he was elected Commissioner. He retired from Desert, in 1993. Jack tried substituting a few years, but enjoyed being retired. He bought a home in Palmdale, Calif., and settled into playing more golf, at Desert Aire Gold Course and Antelope Valley Country Club. He traveled and played over the years, to many famous golf courses, including one of his favorites, Pebble Beach.

His six children, five daughters and son survive him. Katherine, Glenna, Jackie, Casey (Cumby Jr.), Louise, and Nancy. He has 16 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren. He was preceded, in death, by his brother, Glenn, his infant grandson, William Osborn, and ex-wife Dorothy Jones.

The family was blessed to have Jack cared for, by two wonderful agencies, in the last eighteen months. The Vitas Hospice Services and staff, including Mollie Pazienza, RN, provided daily needs with grace and humor. As a resident of the JMJ Guest Home, in Lancaster, Calif., where he spent his last year, attended to by their caring staff. There is a special place for them, in our life, as most of you know.

To quote Dave Miller of the Valley Press, from 1969, news article on Dad. ‘Some refer to Jack as a tough person to get along with and perhaps I might be tempted to agree. One thing for sure, you never have to worry about where you stand with Jack Jones.’

A Memorial Service will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m., Monday, August 20, 2012, at the Palmdale High School gym (Gary Phelps Auditorium), 2137 E. Ave R, Palmdale, Calif. In lieu of flowers, a golf scholarship will be awarded, each school year, in his honor, at Desert High School. Your donations can be sent to Desert High School 1575 Payne Ave, Edwards, CA 93523 c/o Jack Jones Memorial Scholarship. Internment and graveside services will take place on October 12, 2012, in Grace Hill Cemetery, Perry, Okla. A.V. Cremation assisted the family.