Wallace Wally Jones came into the world October 18, 1920, as the third child of Wallace Sr. and Lula May Jones, joining brother, Jimmy and sister, Houston. He left us peacefully December 6, 2012, after a long, full life.
Wally grew up in Brentwood, Calif., where he had his first horse, June, and attended Brentwood Grammar School where he was seated near another Jones who later became his beloved wife, Bobbie. He and Bobbie became tennis partners and moved on to University High together, where they were members of the class of 1938.
After attending UCLA where he was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Wally transferred to Stanford. He left Stanford and married Bobbie in 1941, and went to work at his family's James Jones Company-where he later became president/CEO in 1950. Wally remained in that position until he retired in 1986.
As president of James Jones, Wally was actively involved in the business community. From 1956-1970, he was a member of YPO (Young Presidents Organization), serving as L.A. Chapter chairman; founding chairman of the San Gabriel Valley Chapter; area vice president; and national director. He was also active in Merchants and Manufacturers. Wally joined Los Angeles Rotary in 1946, later serving as program chair and vice-president before becoming president of Rotary Club #5 in 1968-69. His involvement in these organizations led to considerable international travel, as did his participation in People-to-People Tennis, and his wonderful photography recorded his and Bobbie's adventures wherever they went. Wally's employees at James Jones still comment on how much they valued him and what an honor it was to work with and for him.
Wally thoroughly enjoyed his professional life, but most of all he loved his family. He and Bobbie raised three children in San Gabriel and Pasadena before they moved to Santa Barbara in 1973. Wally was a great dad and a wonderful grandfather who recently became a great-grandfather as well.
He reveled in the ordinary - joking with co-workers or friends, time with his children, dancing with Bobbie, singing along to Ray Conniff, hunting with friends and family, playing tennis, an early morning swim off Butterfly Beach, reading a good book, or napping in his recliner, Wally appreciated the good fortune of his everyday experience.
Wally prepared for retirement by fencing in a pasture and building a barn on the Williams, Ore. property, purchased in 1964, where he and Bobbie had first camped and then built a cabin in the 1970s. They moved to the cabin when he retired, made many new friends, and Wally joined Grants Pass Rotary Club. He was well known among the locals and was at his happiest as a late-life cowboy-trudging his property, plowing the pasture, taking cutting classes, or riding his horses, Scher and later, Bo, through the woods near Williams. Clearing out the stream at the cabin, watching the bear and deer that wandered his land, or photographing the changes in local flora, Wally was consistently aware and grateful; he had a real gift for contentment. His glass was always full, life was always good, nature was always a source of peace and beauty, and his family was always the best.
A stroke in 2004 forced Wally to move to the home he and Bobbie had purchased at the Rogue Valley Manor in Medford, Ore., where they spent the rest of their lives. Wally's best friend, Bo (his last horse), was boarded in Williams where Wally drove to visit and ride him as long as he was able. Later, as Alzheimer's claimed many of Wally's abilities, Bo was donated to Once Upon A Horse, a therapeutic equestrian program in Grants Pass, where Wally continued to visit him until he no longer could. Bo was a great hit at the Manor when he came to celebrate Wally's 91st birthday in 2011.
Staff and friends at the Manor can attest to Wally's warm, kind spirit and great sense of humor. Even in his last years, Wally continually spoke of how lucky he was, and what a great life he'd had. His attitude of gratitude is one from which we all can learn. Those who knew him are lucky to have had him in their lives, and his children, Kris DeGroodt (Carpinteria, Calif.), Melinda Jones (Grover Beach, Calif.), and Tim Jones (Salt Lake City, Utah); and granddaughter, Galen DeGroodt (Pine, Colo.) are the luckiest of all. He was dearly loved and will be sorely missed. Bobbie predeceased Wally in July 2011.
Years ago Wally gave his children a copy of a poem, saying it expressed how he and Bobbie felt about death. Two of the verses follow:
If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss-
Ah yes, these things I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow.
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much,
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch
. . . . (author unknown)
Those wishing to honor Wally can do so by donating to The Nature Conservancy-or by taking a long walk or ride in wilderness, remembering moments of joy.