HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – A community leader and member of one of Huntsville’s most prominent families died in an ATV accident on July 15.
Raymond B. “Ray” Jones, died after an ATV accident on his farm land near Paint Rock in Jackson County. He was 87.
Ray was the famous Jones family patriarch, for which Jones Valley in South Huntsville is named. The Joneses helped lead Huntsville into the technology age after being considered a “sleepy cotton town” for so long.
His father, Carl T. Jones, was a founder of G.W. Jones & Sons engineering firm, a key designer of post-World War II Huntsville.
Ray went to Auburn and was an avid fan. He served in the military and returned to Huntsville in 1957 to manage his family’s Jones Valley Farm. When his father passed, Ray took over the engineering firm.
Jones Valley Farm
Originally close to 3,000 acres, Jones Valley Farm remains one of the largest remaining, working urban farms in the United States.
Ray Jones lifelong friend David Johnston says Ray loved to farm. Along with Jones Valley Farm, the family owns farms in Jackson County and Marshall County.
Jones was inducted into the Alabama Livestock Hall of Fame in 1988, which is a very prestigious honor. Living members of the Hall vote to induct new members. He also served as State President for the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association in 1976.
Alabama Cattlemen’s Association says Jones was a pioneer breeder of the forage, fescue, which led the way to its popularity in grazing in the state today.
“The leadership and staff of the Alabama Cattlemen’s Association are mourning the loss of a fellow cattlemen that left behind a tremendous legacy. Mr. Jones served as state cattlemen’s president in 1976 making many contributions to the association during his tenure. Those did not go unrecognized as he was later inducted into the Alabama Livestock Hall of Fame in 1988. We offer our sincere condolences to the entire Jones family as they cope with this loss,” said Alabama Cattlemen’s Association Executive Vice President Erin Beasley in a statement to News 19.
“They were at one time the largest cattle farm in North Alabama, maybe the whole state,” says David Johnston.
His family remembers him as a “dedicated servant to others.” Ray a pivotal role in the founding of the Lipscomb University ‘Raymond B. Jones’ College of Engineering. He also served as the president of the Huntsville Rotary Club and on the UAH Foundation Board.
Ray was a beloved public speaker and author. He loved being outdoors, farming, raising cattle and turkey hunting.
Over the years, the Jones family sold farm land to be developed. It is now home to Randolph School, Valley Bend Shopping Center, The Ledges Golf course and several residential communities.
Ray Jones also donated the land to Mayfair Church for them to build on the corner of Carl T. Jones Drive and Garth Road. Ray served as a deacon there for many years. Through the church, he went on several mission trips to Cuba and the Baja.
Mayfair Church of Christ Minister and longtime family friend Gary Bradley says Ray Jones was a devout Christian and community leader.
“He was a leader and the meaning of leadership is influence. He had tremendous influence everywhere he went,” says Bradley.
Ray is survived by his wife Libby, and his children: Lisa and her husband Mark, May and her husband Mike, Raymond Jr. and his wife Kristy.
The visitation will be held on Wednesday, July 20, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., followed by a funeral on Thursday at 11 a.m., both at Mayfair Church of Christ. The service will be live streamed on the church’s website.