Remembering Ronny Jones

NOTE: Though this was not read at Ronny's funeral at Harmony United Methodist Church, it was shared with the family.

By Suzy Barile

Many of you today are thinking, I suspect, exactly what I am: We wish our reason for being together would go away, that we would awaken from this bad dream. But try as we have, we have awakened to the same reality. Our wish has not come true. And so we are forced to face what seems the unthinkable – life without Ronny Jones.

I am a relative newcomer to the Jones family. My daughter and I – my entire family, in fact -- “married in,” as they say. Yet there was no trial period, no testing of the waters to make certain we fit. Shirley and Ronny Jones made certain of that – and not just with us, but with everyone they met. No one was a stranger after stepping inside the Jones home.

Ronny was my mother-in-law’s first cousin’s husband. My husband John called him “Uncle” Ronny. I did the same, and I did it often, especially when we began coming to Harmony on a regular basis while working on a plan to renovate John’s grandparents’ house, just down the road from Ronny and Shirley. I spent two summers here, often alone when John was working, and sometimes with family and friends visiting.

Being alone meant that when I found yellow jackets in the yard, I called on Uncle Ronny to take care of them. The afternoon I watered the yard after planting grass seed and depleted the well’s reservoir so it made an awful grinding noise, I called Uncle Ronny. When my sister and nephews came for a visit, and we were accidentally locked out of the house, we called Uncle Ronny. At this point, I must underscore the “we,” because those nephews – Jack and Joseph and Jesse – thought Ronny was their uncle, as well, and he never told them differently. They never hesitated to ride their bikes down the road to see if Uncle Ronny was there to visit for awhile or to have him fix a sticking bike fender or to ask for whatever it was they needed. “We’ll go get Uncle Ronny,” they would say when problems arose.

But we are not the only ones who would call on Ronny, and as when we called, he never hesitated to stop what he was doing to lend a hand. Many a veteran’s family gravitated to his warm smile as he traveled around Iredell County, representing the American Legion at veterans’ memorial services. He was on one committee or another at this church and served his hometown of Harmony in a variety of ways. He never lost touch with those he worked with, even after his retirement. Uncle Ronny loved his family and his friends and his neighbors as fervently as Jesus had commanded him to do – and he did it the right way: loving them as he did himself.

The selfishness of why we have gathered cannot be overlooked, either. We are here because we loved Ronny, because we appreciated that he did always drop whatever he was doing to help us or comfort us or offer us sage advice. And we are asking: Who will do that now?

For me and John, who will convince the company that is to dig our new well that it must be dug where Ronny doused for water? Who will show us how to plant our very first Harmony garden this summer? Who will talk basketball and football with me? Who will drop what he is doing when any of us calls?

And who will greet us as Ronny always did: “Hey, Jowhn. Hey, Suuuzy”? I’m certain he drawled your name as he did ours!

Yes, we all must now face the unthinkable – life without Ronny Jones. It is something not one of us, I am certain, wants to do.