When I wrote a story a few years ago about a teen who was in foster care because his parents didn’t care about him, Jeff Jones immediately welcomed him into his house.
This was exactly what I expected from Jeff; he would reach out to anyone in need.
Jeff was the husband of Shoni Jones, The Lincoln News Messenger office manager. He was happily married to her for 20 years and was also a logger for 20 years.
Jeff was only 55 years old.
Life is often unfair, as Shoni and her family and friends found out Oct. 14. Sadly, Jeff died unexpectedly that morning in a work accident in the El Dorado National Forest.
We will never forget Jeff’s kindness.
Jeff opened his home and shared his food, belongings and time with anyone who had no place to go.
My first impression of Jeff: he was louder than anyone else in the room. He was also the first one to flash a smile, crack a joke and ask how each of us in the office was doing. If I was not in a good mood, Jeff would ask why, listen patiently and then try to cheer me up.
Jeff always said exactly what he thought. While others might have been more diplomatic in telling me what they thought of my boyfriend, for example, Jeff would question me pointblank in what I saw in “that monster.”
He was brutally honest.
Whatever Jeff said, however, was spoken because he wanted what was best for his friends. Even if I didn’t see it as Jeff did at the time, he was always right.
When I first met Jeff in 2008, he appeared tough because of his size and can-do-anything-I-want look. But, within two minutes of talking to him, I saw Jeff was the gentlest “tough guy” I’ve ever had the good fortune to know.
Although he would downplay it if mentioned by anyone in my office, Jeff also took care of numerous stray cats and dogs because no one else wanted to be bothered. It was that gigantic heart of his that wanted to help anyone or anything who needed support.
Jeff Jones was a beautiful man, with an infectious laugh, who knew how to make us smile in the midst of our everyday issues. He was also very humble and probably didn’t know how we at The Lincoln News Messenger all loved him.
He worked hard to feed his family and keep them safe and happy. Jeff was just as quick to reach out to scores of community members and family members who needed a helping hand.
Life is so unpredictable, so random. In a few seconds, Shoni lost her best friend and husband; their six children lost a doting father; his mother lost a loving son who was in regular contact with her.
No one will ever replace Jeff.
A Celebration of Life for him will start at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Moore homestead, 8370 Craterhill Road in Ophir. Those attending are urged to bring a chair, food to share and a story or two to tell. I expect it will be standing-room only.
It’s our turn to show Jeff’s legacy that, though his generosity and kindness, he has taught us well on how to be better friends and neighbors.