Frank H. Jones

   We gather this morning to remember, honor, and thank God for the life of Frank Hamilton Jones.  As we do so, we seek God’s comfort and seek an eternal perspective for our loss.

The Bible is filled with wisdom and hope when it comes to death and eternity.

In Ecclesiastes 3 it was Solomon (and not Pete Seeger, the Byrds, or Judy Collins) who wrote,

For everything there is a season,

a time for every activity under heaven.

     A time to be born and a time to die.

A time to plant and a time to harvest.

     A time to kill and a time to heal.

A time to tear down and a time to build up.

     A time to cry and a time to laugh.

A time to grieve and a time to dance.

     A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.

A time to embrace and a time to turn away.

     A time to search and a time to quit searching.

A time to keep and a time to throw away.

     A time to tear and a time to mend.

A time to be quiet and a time to speak.

     A time to love and a time to hate.

A time for war and a time for peace.

The Contemporary Translation THE MESSAGE does a good job of conveying Paul’s words from 2 Corinthians chapter 5,

We know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven God-made, not hand made and we’ll never have to relocate our tents again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move and so we cry out in frustration.  Compared to what’s coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we’re tired of it! We’ve been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what’s ahead, He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.

That’s why we live with such good cheer. You won’t see us drooping our heads or dragging our feet! Cramped conditions here don’t get us down. They only remind us of the spacious living conditions ahead. It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we’ll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.

It is our challenge this morning to rejoice and celebrate in the past even as we remind ourselves to look forward to what is ahead for those who put their trust in Christ.

Please pray with me.

Father, we come to you this morning to give you thanks and to ask for your help.  We acknowledge that you give life and you determine when life is through.  We submit to your wisdom.

Today we give you thanks for the life of Frank Jones.  Many of those here today are here because of his life.  The rest of us have been touched and changed by his life to one degree or another.  Thank you for the blessing he was.  We ask you to help us to remember and celebrate that life today.

We also ask for your help.  Help us to see with the perspective that we read about in the Bible.  Help us to see beyond the pain of this world to the glory of the next.  Help us as our human and temporal minds seek to grasp the idea of eternity.  Grant us your comfort this day as we mourn.

Lead us in our time together, we ask in the wonderful name of Jesus.   Amen.

______________

Frank Hamilton Jones, 83, of rural Stronghurst, IL was born on Mar 13, 1925, in Jacksonville IL, the son of Frank and Mary (Winchester) Jones.

Frank attended elementary schools in Kincaid, South Jacksonville, and Pittsfield. He started high school in Paxton, then graduated from Bushnell in 1942. He attended Western Illinois State Teachers College one quarter before enlisting in the United States Marine Corps, where he was a member of the 5th Division; After serving 3 years with the Marines, Frank returned to Western, graduating in 1949 with a bachelor of science degree in Physical Education. In 1974, he was part of the first class of coaches/athletes to be inducted into the WIU Athletic Hall of Fame.

Frank married Analu Painter on Aug 19, 1950, in Macomb IL. She passed away on Nov 21, 1994.  Frank and Analu had ten children.

In addition to college sports, Frank played baseball during summers throughout his college years and during his three years as social studies teacher and basketball and baseball coach at Mt Pulaski. In 1952, he moved to the Painter family farm. During his years of farming, he officiated basketball and football games. After farming for 10 years, he returned to education at Terre Haute Jr. High as social studies teacher/principal and later became principal at LaHarpe High School.  Frank returned to WIU to earn his masters degree in Education Administration and a 6th year degree in Administration. He then served as Superintendent for the Northwestern school district for 13 years, retiring in 1981.

After Analu died Frank felt he didn’t have much more to live for. Then he became reacquainted with Janice Massey who had taught with him in La Harpe. He married Jan on Feb 14, 1998, in Nashua, IA.  Jan and Frank did a good deal of traveling and enjoyed 10 years together. Frank died on May 2nd at 12:02 a.m. after a strong battle against cancer. Jan was at his side and survives.

Frank is also survived by 5 daughters,

  • Jan (and her husband Richard) Jones-Turner
  • and June Jones both of Vero Beach FL,
  • Joy (and husband Scott) Pollock of Blandinsville,
  • Joanna (and husband Larry) Sholl of Lomax,
  • Julie (and husband Rich) Golinski of Pleasant Hill CA;

5 sons,

  • Jay (and his wife Cathy) Jones
  • and Jim (and his wife Cindy) Jones of LaHarpe,
  • Joel (and his wife Debbie) Jones of Vero Beach FL,
  • Jack (and his wife Karen) Jones of Overland Park KS,
  • Jeff (and his wife Shannon) Jones of Stuttgart Arkansas;
  • one stepson, Loren Massey of Washington IL;
  • one stepdaughter, Beth (and her husband Mike) Newsome of Urbana;
  • 17 grandchildren and 3 step-grandchildren.

Frank was preceded in death by his parents, his first wife, one sister, Phyllis Beck, and one brother, Bob “Peachy” Jones.

Frank Jones was a giant of a man.  He was a not only a big guy but he also stood out in a crowd because of his character.  I like the description of his best friend: “he was a Marine through and through and a man through and through.”

Frank as we know was a gifted athlete, a Father of 10, someone you didn’t want to mess around with at school, but most of all he was known as a good, decent, and fair man.

Frank joined the Marines during his first year of college.  His roommate Bill Heath also joined the war effort but was killed in action.  Frank enlisted because he didn’t want to be drafted into the Army (the Marine dress uniforms looked cooler than the other branches).  He served in Washington D.C. for awhile and then became a litter (or stretcher) carrier on the battlefield in World War II.  He was involved in the taking of Iwo Jima one of the fieriest and costliest battles of the war.  Though he may have told you that he was one of the soldiers in the monument depicting the raising of the flag . . . it wasn’t true.  But he was there at that time.  We’ll never know what awful things he saw during those years of fighting.

It sounds to me like Frank gained a new perspective for life after the war.  He savored each day and became more focused in his education. He played four sports in college and lettered in all of them.  Frank did not even start playing football until his Jr. year of High School, he ran a little track in his Sr. year and didn’t start to play baseball until he arrived at WIU.  The most famous story (and true) is the time Frank played baseball and ran track events in between innings.

Frank’s best friend of 60 years, Tweed Mummert said,

Frank was a very unpretentious person.  Unless I’d shared so many years of history with him, I wouldn’t have known that he was one of Western Illinois University’s greatest athletes.  How many men earn varsity letters in four major sports, four years in a row?  Frank had success as an athlete, a coach, a teacher, and as an administrator.  He was proud of his successes but he was more proud of his ten children and the successes that they’ve found in their own lives.

It was in his Jr or Senior year that Frank met Analu Painter.  Tweed said it was “inevitable that they get together: the Homecoming Queen and the good-looking star athlete who was popular as a campus leader.” He graduated in 1949 and they were married in 1950.  They had a small apartment and Frank says that when the hide-a-bed was open you couldn’t open the front door and there was no door on the bathroom. After teaching and coaching in Mt. Pulaski for three years, Frank thought about a career change.  His father-in-law, urged him to move to the Painter farm and take a stab at farming.

Frank “farmed” for ten years.  His family describes Frank’s effort as a farmer to be akin to that of Eddie Albert on the TV show Green Acres.  The story goes that the cows on the farm went dry because Frank never could get the hang of when he was supposed to milk them. Frank was a gifted athlete but was not a very handy guy.  He was much better with books than with tools. Analu and the kids did most of the farming.

Frank went back to teaching and found his niche as an Administrator.  Frank believed in education and was a man who was always learning himself.  He had a sharp mind and was interested in many things. He went back to school to get his Masters Degree so he could be a Principal and got even more education to be a Superintendent.

Frank was first a principal at the Terre Haute Jr. High where he was known to be tough but fair. One particular group of students was especially glad to move away from Frank in Jr. High and move to High School.  However, in their sophomore year Frank became the Principal at the High School!  The “5% group” (as they came to be known) were labeled by the previous principal who said “most of the kids are good but . . . there is 5% who aren’t”.  That 5% (it was a larger percentage than that) enjoyed the label. They were an “energetic bunch”. They weren’t too excited to have Mr. Jones back as Principal.

Frank developed a relationship with many of these kids since they were in his office so frequently.  This was during the time of corporal punishment.  Frank administered discipline but I believe everyone agrees that he always did so fairly.  Frank was never abusive . . .his goal was to teach responsibility to the kids.  He wanted them to learn that there are consequences for actions and they should be willing to accept those consequences. Some of those people looked up to Frank for the rest of their lives.  Frank had a marvelous ability to look past last names, social standing, and income levels.  People were just people.  They were all treated equally and with dignity.

Frank had a reputation for being tough, but students soon discovered that Frank was in their corner.  He wanted the best for them and if they needed discipline, that’s what he would give them; if they needed encouragement, he would extend it; if they needed a break they would get it from him; if they needed an advocate he would intercede on their behalf.

Anyone who was around Frank for long, learned that this practice of treating people equally wasn’t confined just to the students at school.  This is what made him a good Superintendent. Frank was the same whether he was talking to a student, a parent, a farmer, a coach, a doctor or an executive.  He saw past labels and treated everyone with grace and dignity.

In addition to Frank’s work in the school, he had his hands full at home. Tweed said,

I asked Frank once, why he and Anna Lou were having so many children. He said that he wanted to leave a legacy of the Jones name that would carry into eternity.  The dynasty stopped growing when Analu said that ten was enough! Frank said she was losing her sense of humor!

Frank would be the first to tell you that the kids turned out well because of Analu. Frank enjoyed spending time with friends, going out to eat and golfing and wasn’t home as much as he, looking back, knew he should have been.  When asked to recall Jay’s first month Frank wrote, “you pooped a lot”. Analu was an incredible mom and Frank knew that.

Frank was not the kind of dad you ran to so you could cuddle up on his lap.  He was the kind of dad you listened to and respected.  Frank worked to instill character and discipline into his children.  In the Jones home it was simply “understood” that you would finish school, you would work hard, and you would do your best.

If you crossed the line at home, there were consequences. If someone transgressed the law and didn’t confess . . . everyone got punished.  They were told that they were not being punished for what had happened, but for not being truthful about what happened.

Things must have been fun (or at least interesting) around the Jones household.  The whole family has a good (or warped) sense of humor. Each of the kids has a quick wit and if you knew Frank, you knew he had an influence on that fact. Frank was the keeper of the remote control.  You might think that he was sleeping but the minute you changed the channel (no matter how careful you thought you were being) Frank would open an eye and say, “Hey, I was watching that.”

Frank had first dibs on any seat in the house.  You didn’t sit in dad’s chair and if you were sitting on the couch when dad wanted to lay down . . . you moved.  If Frank was asleep you had to be really careful when you woke him up.  He always awoke with a start.

What Frank ate during dinner was sometimes different (and always better) than what everyone else ate.

At Christmas time all the names of family members would be put in a hat and you would draw out who you were supposed to buy for.  The name you had was to be a strict secret.  You weren’t to tell anyone. No one ever wanted to draw Frank’s name because he was hard to buy for.  But one year everyone drew his name because he put his name on every slip!

Attorney Lyman Fort gave the family a big pyramid with hooks on it with medallions with the names of all the family members and labeled it the “will chart”.  The names on the hooks were supposed to show where you were in the family inheritance.  These names could change with the day!  Still today as family members walk by they move their name to the top.  Even as Frank was dying the kids were whispering, “I’m the favorite, right dad?”

Frank wanted his kids to be independent.  When they went off to college they were expected to earn scholarships or work to get through school.  Jay remembers dad giving him $20.00 towards his education.  Frank wanted his kids to be able to make it on their own.

When you look back on the home that Frank and Analu built it is really quite remarkable that they had ten healthy children, they had triplets who survived at a time when such a thing was rare.  All the children seemed to have athletic ability and they all turned out to be relatively normal (depending of course on the standard you use).

I sense that Frank’s relationship with his kids grew deeper over the years because he had a little more time and energy for them.  When Analu died Frank felt his life was over; he had nothing more to live for.  However, he did spend more time enjoying the lives of his Grandchildren.

Frank was able to be more involved in the lives of his grandchildren than perhaps he was with his own kids. He enjoyed going to games, going on a camp-out or sharing stories.  Frank really enjoyed seeing his Grandchildren graduate and succeed.  His wish of a great legacy is coming true. He was looking forward to attending graduations this year.

I always enjoyed seeing Frank at the various games at the school.  We had a chance to visit many of those times.  We never visited long because Frank wasn’t big on small talk and he was always keeping tabs on what was happening in the game . . . unless it was a girls’ game.  Girls’ games didn’t seem to have enough action for Frank.

When Frank and Jan re-connected after knowing each other many years before, I suspect neither Frank’s family or Jan’s was too sure about this new relationship. The truth is that they were two people who came together at just the right time in their lives.  Ten years later both families have embraced the other and have all come to realize what a wonderful blessing the relationship has been.  Frank treated Beth and Loren with warmth and love.  Jan was the same way toward Frank’s children. These last ten years were rich and wonderful years for Frank and Jan.

Frank loved meeting with his friends.  He loved going up to Tink’s where he visited with all kinds of people.  On Tuesdays he met his buddies at Hy-Vee in Macomb for coffee.  You’d see him in the restaurant in town shooting the breeze with someone. He had lots of stories unfortunately I don’t feel comfortable sharing most of them here. He loved going out to eat, he liked to read, he was an avid golfer, enjoyed crossword puzzles and enjoyed all kinds of sporting events.  He was an avid Chicago Sports fan, rooting for (and on occasion cursing) both the Cubs and the Bears.  He always jumped at the chance to attend a pro or college game. The fact is, Frank enjoyed life.

Frank was a loyal friend.  He loved people and most people he really liked.  He would often talk about a person being a wonderful person.  Frank loved his coffee.

Frank also liked to have a drink now and again.  He told the story of the New Year’s Eve when the kids were all in bed.  He and Analu opened a couple of bottles of wine and talked about what was then 25 years of marriage.  They recounted some of the special times and Frank said “we both got about half bombed”.  He said they vowed they would do it again on their 50th anniversary but Analu died 6 years before that could happen.

It is not often a man has the chance to have two good marriages. How blessed Frank has been to have Jan to help him through this last year.  Frank took his diagnosis of cancer in stride.  As a proud man it was very difficult for him to not be able to get around on his own.  It wasn’t easy going places with a walker or having at times to use a wheelchair, but Frank valued his friends and the opportunity to live life more than his personal pride.  This last year was hard, but it was also precious.  Frank relished the opportunity to spend quality time with his family.  He knew he was a man who had been richly blessed.

Tweed sums up Frank’s life pretty well,

To paraphrase an old saying, Frank didn’t care about the house he lived in or the money he had in the bank. He cared about being remembered by his children and about the lives he touched.  It wasn’t easy for Frank to say, “I love you”. But he did.  He loved his family and his friends. And I have to say, for the record, we love you, too, Frank.

As we sit here today we could tell hundreds of stories. Grandchildren could tell stories about cigar butts, $2.00 bills in a birthday card, and receiving mint coin collections at Christmas.    His kids remember his fatherly counsel to “Be Happy” and to “pursue your dreams”.  They remember his no-nonsense ways and a love they could always depend on. We remember his hearty laugh, his craving for a cigarette, and his warm smile and that wonderful twinkle in his eyes.  Frank loved it when you gave him a hard time and he loved to also dish it out. In fact, one of the frustrating things about a service like this is that there is so much more to say.  Hopefully, through the words written and spoken, the pictures displayed and the conversations we share we will come to appreciate a little more and honor a little more fully the special man Frank Jones was.

Let me share with you the words of the current LaHarpe principal, Lila McKeown who knew Frank on a number of different levels,  she writes,

Dear Frank,

Thank you so much for the legacy that you have left our community.  It is said that we are not judged by what we do, but by the impression we leave.  And you, my friend, have left quite an impression.  You have been the patriarch of a remarkable family.  There are not many people in LaHarpe who can think of a story that does not include one of the Jones clan.  You have given thousands of hours to the school systems you have been involved with and many youth were steered down the right path by your leadership (or shall we say, your particular flair for “convincing them that they were not going to get away with that!”)  You have raised a brood of ten, who have went forth into the world and become good citizens of their communities.  Although I will say, I have seen some of them (OK, all of them) be ornery at some time in their life.  You have always had a distinguished look about you– a “classy gentleman flair”.  I have watched the pride emit from your face when your children and grandchildren accomplished great feats on the athletic fields or achieved their personal goals.  I have seen you be stern with your children, melt with your grandchildren, laugh with your friends, and drink a lot of coffee!!

Sometimes in this world, we get dealt a bad hand—and cancer is definitely one of those times.  You have fought a brave battle, but the battle is almost over.  Please understand that your legacy will live on…through the lives you have touched.

“Vaya con dios” my friend.

Song:  ON EAGLE’S WINGS

Frank wrote that he wasn’t the kind of guy to make New Years resolutions.  However, he would generally resolve to quit smoking, to be a better dad, and to be more religious.

The last time I talked with Frank he said he wasn’t scared to die.  He was at peace.  He felt he was OK with God.

Frank worshiped with Jan many times, especially when Jan was playing the bells in worship. Church was always an uncomfortable place for Frank because I think he felt like he was “behind everyone else”.  However, I like to think that Frank found his faith and did make his peace with God.

It would be a pretty depressing thing if today was the end of Frank’s story.  You work hard, you play hard, you give of yourself to others and then you die.  It would all seem kind of pointless.

In 1 Corinthians 15 the Apostle Paul talked about life beyond the grave.  He said our hope of experiencing that life is contingent on our trust and reliance on Jesus, who rose from the dead.  Paul said the resurrection of Jesus was the linchpin of our confidence in life beyond the grave. The Bible declares that Jesus was executed, buried, and then miraculously came back from the dead and stayed with his followers for 40 days before ascending to Heaven. Theologian R.C. Sproul says,

The issue, as Paul sees it, is “either-or.” Forget the dialectical “sort-of-both-and.” Either life is meaningful, or it is not, and there can be meaning only if something follows life. If life ends in annihilation, then ultimate reality is the grave. If there is no resurrection, we can have no pretensions of human significance. [R.C Sproul, RENEWING YOUR MIND p. 136]

I remind you today that there is real evidence that Jesus rose from the dead,

  • there is an empty tomb
  • there is the fact that the tomb was guarded by temple soldiers for the specific purpose of making sure no one could steal the body
  • there are the grave clothes that were left in the grave as if the body vaporized
  • there were the eyewitnesses (in fact, Paul told people that there were some 500 or more witnesses who had all seen Jesus after the resurrection and added most of them were still alive . . . as if to say, go check out the evidence!)
  • There is also the profound change in the lives of those who were Jesus followers.  The sudden and drastic change from hiding from the Jewish leaders out of fear for their lives to being bold proponents of the resurrection is stunning.  These same men who ran away when Jesus died were now willing to (and did) lay down their lives for Him.  That leads me to think something extraordinary must have happened.  It would seem most reasonable to conclude that what happened was exactly what they said happened – Jesus came back from the dead.
  • And there is the fact that people have been trying to disprove the resurrection ever since it happened.  They have been unsuccessful. It is the most studied historical event.

You see if Jesus rose from the dead (and I believe he did with every ounce of my being) it proves that there is life beyond the grave.  If Jesus rose from the dead it proves that He is the One who can lead us to this life.  If Jesus rose from the dead, then this is not the end for Frank Jones or for you, or me.

Only God knows for sure whether Frank’s faith was sufficient. I believe this last year caused Frank to take a hard look at death and eternity.  I hope and I believe Frank did make his peace with God.  I believe He put simple faith in the promise of Christ that those who believe in Him would live even though they died.

So today, may I encourage you to make your peace with God?  Today I invite to seriously consider the claims of Jesus.  I invite you to experience His love, and to learn of His mercy and His grace.  I invite you to use this day to change the focus of your life.  Instead of living simply for today, start living with an eye on eternity. Instead of pushing the idea of faith aside as something that is insignificant, I encourage you to realize that the issue of our faith is the very thing that makes everything significant.

Grab hold of the Lord.  Know real comfort.  Experience God’s forgiveness, grace, and new life. Make your peace with God.  And as you do, remember those practical lessons we have learned from Frank’s life

  • Decisions have consequences and you need to be willing to live with those consequences (incidentally, that also applies to matters of faith)
  • Under the surface, all people are the same and we should treat them that way
  • Education is a treasure we must not diminish because there is always something new to learn
  • When all is said and done, stuff doesn’t matter; character does
  • True friends are priceless
  • No one is good at everything; the challenge is to find what you are good at and do it to the best of your ability.
  • A man’s legacy is found in the people he has impacted during the course of his life.
  • When the journey of life becomes difficult, you can grumble, or you can hang on in faith, adjust, learn, and move on
  • The love of a good woman (or two) is one of life’s richest treasures
  • When life is over, ten children is not a burden, but the richest of blessings

SOLO: MAY THIS JOURNEY

Father, as we bow before you we give you thanks for Frank Hamilton ones.  Thank you for the fun he brought into life.  Thank you for the example he set; not only of how to live, but also of how to face death.  Thank you for the lives you impacted through him.  Open your wonderful arms of mercy and welcome Frank into your eternal home.

I ask that you keep this family close.  Grant them clear memories and a sure hope. Provide for Jan.  Fill the huge emptiness in her heart with your sweet presence.  Strengthen her, and strengthen us, until that day when we are together again living that life that is beyond the grave.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name.  Amen.