Rick Jones, who was a pressman here since April 2005 and was also husband to Eagle reporter Elane Jones, took his last breath on this earth Thursday morning.
Since Rick didn’t have his name on the front page every day, a lot of people may not know him and how important he was in getting your newspaper to you each day. Rick was a hard worker. He was always at work when he was supposed to be, and he did his best to make sure that our paper’s print job looked good each day.
Along with being a valued employee here, Rick was also a friend to many of us. I can honestly say that Rick Jones has been one of the reasons that I looked forward to coming to the Eagle office each day.
Rick had a great sense of humor.
I knew when he arrived every day, because he would walk by my office and say, “Hey, ‘Fat Boy.’” My typical response was “What’s up, ‘Old Man?’”
Can’t you just feel the love from that exchange?
Rick was only 54 years old, but he’s had white hair since I’ve known him. The only time I’ve ever seen his hair with any color in it was when he’d forget he had ink on his hands. There’s many times I’ve seen him walk through the newsroom with a streak of either red, yellow or blue in his hair.
My weight and his age weren’t the only things we would pick at each other about. We were also on opposite sides of the Alabama/Auburn rivalry. Rick was a big time Tigers fan.
This last football season was a rough one for Rick. The Alabama fans here at the Eagle weren’t very kind to him while Auburn was plodding through a terrible season. He would pull for any who played Alabama.
One of the last things I picked at Rick about was his beloved Tigers and their lack of national championships. I asked him if he was born before Auburn won its first national title in 1957. He said he was born a year later.
“‘Old Man,’ you better cherish that one in 2010, because it’s the only one you’re going to see in your lifetime,” I joked back at him.
He grumbled back, “It’s probably the only one we’ll have in your lifetime, too.”
Rick had many talents. He did an impression of Mountain Man from “Duck Dynasty.” It wasn’t really an impression as much as just his normal voice, but he called it an impression. It would crack many of us up.
He would surprise you with his humor sometimes. A few months ago, I saw Rick strutting through the newsroom like he owned the place. He was wearing his pressman uniform, but he had a huge hat on his head that he had constructed out of a cardboard spool and was using a mop handle as a cane. When I saw him, I named him Pope of the Daily Mountain Eagle. A couple of hours later, he strolled back through and the hat now had a feather. He joked that he had gone from pope to pimp.
One of Rick’s talents helped me out on multiple occasions. He was an outstanding backyard mechanic. In my case, he should probably be referred to as an Eagle parking lot mechanic. There’s been plenty of times that my car wouldn’t have been able to leave our parking lot if it wasn’t for Rick.
Rick and I shared some serious times as well. Ever since he had a heart attack and open heart surgery a few years back, Rick would drop by my office from time to time. With us two, conversations would get that deep, but if something was bugging him, he’d stop in for a chat.
From our conversations, I gathered one thing more than anything else — Rick Jones loved his family. He loved his sons, Cory and Jason. He loved his wife, Elane. He also loved his little girl, Rusha.
Rusha passed away almost two years ago after a tough fight with breast cancer. Rick missed her so much. He had mentioned to me a few times that he knew he would see her again.
While I know all of us here at the Eagle are going to miss our “family” member, I do take comfort in knowing that the “Old Man” is now spending time with his precious daughter that he loved deeply.
Please keep the Jones family in your thoughts and prayers.
James Phillips is editor of the Daily Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at 205-221-2840 or james.phillips@mountaineagle. com.