R. D. (Sonny) Jones passed away April 20, at UAMS at the age of 79 with his family by his side. Sonny had been fighting Non-Hodgkins lymphoma since his diagnosis in September.
He was born October 19, 1941, to Carroll and Gracie McManus Jones. He was preceded in death by his parents and a sister, Patsy Jones Hunter.
He was a 1959 graduate of Drew Central High School and a 1963 graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. He was honored to be inducted into the Drew Central Hall of Fame in 2011.
Sonny built a successful logging company after starting with a few pieces of equipment left to him by his dad, Carroll. R. D. Jones Logging is still going strong today under the leadership of his son Rob and grandsons, Beau and Tyler.
In 1991, Sonny was one of seven logging contractors who formed the Arkansas Timber Producer’s Association. The mission of this group was for the betterment of the logging industry in the state. Sonny was elected the first president, a position he held for four years. In the late 1990s he was selected as Georgia Pacific’s Outstanding Logger of the Year for the state of Arkansas at which time he was featured in the national magazine, The Logging Times. At the time of his presidency of ATPA, the Log-A-Load for Arkansas Children’s Hospital was formed. Sonny and his wife, Phyllis, were volunteers for the first Arkansas telethon and he, along with many others, were instrumental in organizing the first Drew County Log-A-Load. He was a member of the Arkansas Forestry Association for many years.
Sonny’s volunteer service to Drew County began when he was in his early thirties. He was thirty-two years old when he was elected to serve on the Drew Central School Board, a position he held from 1973-1983. During this time he served as chairman. He was in the same year elected to represent Drew County on the C and L Electric Co-op Board, a position he held for 27 years. While serving on the board he was instrumental in procuring the electric sub-station for the Lacey/Ladelle area. During this time he also served on the Drew Memorial Hospital Board and served as interim chairman at one time. In 1998 he was appointed to represent Drew County on the Southeast Arkansas Intermodal Board and was serving as vice-president at the time of his death. He was at one time, a member of the Twenty for the Future, a group working on procuring industry for the county.
In 1980 he was appointed to the Commercial Bank Board of Directors, a position he held until recently when he resigned due to his illness. He is a member of the United Methodist Church of Monticello and has served on the Pastor/Parish Committee and the Finance Committee.
He was appointed by Governor Mike Beebe to serve on the Arkansas Development Finance Authority in 2011.
Sonny’s involvement in logging brought about a strong desire to project a positive image for the industry. This led to his extensive service to the state, regional, and national organizations designed to preserve our natural resources. He was selected to serve on the Drew County Conservation Board; elected as President of the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts; President of the Southeast Arkansas Resource, Conservation, and Development Council; and President of the regional RC & D Council which included the states of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. In 2010 he was installed as a member of the Executive Board of the National Association of Conservation Districts. In 2011 he was inducted into the Arkansas Association of Conservation Districts Hall of Fame. In 2002 he was selected as the Arkansas Outstanding District Director of the year. This was in recognition of his work in sponsoring both a state and four-state regional forestry contest for high school students.
Sonny is survived by his wife of 29 years, Phyllis Jones; two sons, Rob (Lori) and Jon of Lacey; a step-daughter Dr. Andrea Puyear of Andover, Kansas and a step-son, Steve Puyear of Blytheville; two grandsons, Beau (Kohl) and Tyler (Korry) and three great grands, Carter, Davis and Evy Claire.
A funeral service will be held on Friday, April 23, at 10 a.m. at Stephenson-Dearman Funeral Home in Monticello.
Pallbearers will be John David Kellum, Will Hunter, Jesse Bone, Ralph Hunter, Jeff Watson, and Paul Griffin. Honorary Pallbearers will be Harold West, George Harris, Danny Drake, David Burnett, Mike Stewart, Wendall Patrick, Harold Mitchell, Dennis Holley, and John Fortin.
Burial will be in the Lacey Cemetery. Memorials may be made to the First United Methodist Church of Monticello, Methodist Church at Lacey, or the Lacey Cemetery.