Remembering Dr. George A. Jones
By Garland O. Goodwin
Remember When column
It cannot be Trade Street this time, for my friend Dr. George Alexander Jones has left us unexpectedly. Sure, he was 95 years old, but we all thought he would live forever. And as one of God’s children and one of His messengers, we are assured that he will. Promise.
I found Dr. Jones in the office of the Henderson County Genealogical and Historical Society, which he founded. I found him so many times that I cannot say what brought about my first visit.
One of the first was to learn about doing a cemetery census of our county. Dr. Jones came to Tryon to conduct a training session for a group of Polk County Historical Association volunteers. The fairly large group quickly dwindled to the dedicated pair of Kathy Taft and Al Creasy, who spent the better part of their two years or so finding and recording the locations and burials in our cemeteries. I reviewed their book, published and sold by PCHA, as “a good read.” One can figuratively walk among friends as he reads their names . . .
My cousin Ann was studying her ancestry, so we went up to Hendersonville to see Dr. Jones. He received us kindly and helped her a lot. Both Ann and Aunt Mildred are kin to Dr. Jones, and Aunt Mildred’s accounts sometimes differed from Dr. Jones’s. Ann was trying to sort them out, and Dr. Jones stuck to his guns, as did Aunt Mildred. I suppose that they can get to the bottom of all that, since they are all together now in the Promised Land.
Dr. Jones’s late wife Evelyn used to call me with her questions of history, and they invited me to annual meetings of their Society in Hendersonville. Fran and I cherish the memories of those gatherings, at which we met their daughters among the guests. Alexia Helsley came down to our Museum to see what we had about wine making in North Carolina, and she put what I told her in her book. It was all there, except the parts about my apprenticeship in printing at the Bulletin office and the making of moonshine whiskey. I always give something extra . . .
In later visits, I learned that Dr. Jones took a nap for some two hours in the afternoon. He was in the office alright, but was in a back room dozing on a cot. The staff ladies enforced the rule absolutely . . . no one and no matter was important enough to disturb the good Doctor’s rest. Probably part of why he lived so long.
My half-hour early arrival at the Saluda depot was not early enough for the premiere showing of a documentary film about Dr. Jones. The meeting room was already overflowing into the adjacent room, but I was able to take up a position where I could look thru the door. They decided to do another showing, so I made my way in as the first group was going out. I got to see several friends as well as Dr. Jones and daughter Alexia. Last time for Dr. Jones; we were glad to see one another and to wish each other well. Alexia has another project going and will see me about that in due time.
Dr. Jones is recognized as an icon in Hendersonville for his manifold achievements there . . . he is credited with saving their historic courthouse and with the founding of the Society which he presided over for his second lifetime. His first was as an ordained minister of the Gospel. I am glad that I am not the only person he charmed with his happy demeanor and his dedication to preserving history in terms of the people who made it.