Edley Jones an editor for 50 years

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Vicksburg Rotary member since 1951 Edley Jones Jr. laughs as he shows off a new tie in his office. Jones has served as secretary-treasurer for the Vicksburg Rotary for 50 years.(Brian Loden The Vicksburg Post)

[7/6/04]Every year, members of a Vicksburg organization have an election. Since 1951, there hasn’t been much suspense about one office. Edley Jones Jr. will be elected secretary-treasurer and, in that role, he will publish and mail the club’s one-page newsletter no matter what.

“Edley Jones is the real pillar of the Vicksburg Rotary Club,” said Russell Hawkins, a past president of the club, chartered here in 1918. “He is the reason the club is as strong as it is today.”

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Jones, 76, took over writing the bulletin from his father, the late Dr. Edley H. Jones Sr., who’d had the job for 20 years. Other than military service from 1953 until 1955 and a year out as president of the club, Edley Jr. has been newsletter editor hitting a milestone last week.

“As of July 1, I started my 50th year,” Jones said.

Rotary International is an organization that promotes integrity among business and professional leaders in a community. There are more than 1.2 million clubs around the world that meet weekly. Most also perform community services. The Vicksburg club meets on Thursday’s at Maxwell’s Restaurant.

Jones’ newsletters are written in brisk, tongue-in-cheek fashion. Members know there will be a review of the past week’s guest speaker and a preview of the current week’s program. There will also be club news, member news and a joke or cartoon, usually irreverent but always upbeat.

“Before I agreed to be president, I made sure Edley Jones was going to be secretary-treasurer,” said Herb Wilkinson, another past president. “I would not have wanted to try to lead the club without him.”

Jones remembers getting the assignment early in his membership and being glad to accept the responsibility

“When Sam Price said he wasn’t going to do it any more, George Rogers Sr. said, We’ve got to have a secretary-treasurer, would you do it?'” Jones said, adding he agreed.

“It paid $25 a month then. That was steady income in those days, he said. “I was working on a commission (selling insurance) and that was the only steady money we had.”

In those early days, the Rotary bulletin was not the only writing Jones was doing. He also wrote the weekly Y’s Men’s Club bulletin for a year and a half and a weekly boating column for the Vicksburg Evening Post called Let’s Go Boating for five years.

Of his writing style for Rotary, Jones said, “I never let the facts get in the way of a good story.” And awards from fellow Rotarians attest to the quality of the information and entertainment. Jones has won several awards from Rotary District 6820, which has 42 clubs.

In the years he has written the bulletin, technology has changed from manual typewriters and Mimeograph machines to electric typewriters and Ditto machines to the computers and electronic printers of today.

Jones is still an insurance executive, but with his wife, Lucy, owns a travel agency. One time he took the bulletins to Miami Beach to mail while on a trip. Another time they were mailed from Hawaii.

“Nobody said a word,” he said.

And there was the time it snowed.

“Lucy and I went to the office and I opened the safe and got out stamps holding a flashlight in my teeth,” Jones said. “Then we sat in the car freezing putting on the stamps.”

The trip to the downtown Post Office on Crawford Street was an exercise in the geography of Vicksburg as they tried to find the flattest route.

“We got them there in time, but the Post Office didn’t deliver them until the snow melted,” he said.

Other than Dr. Jones and his son, only seven others have been editor of the newsletter, named “Rotary Rogue,” in the club’s 86-year history. They were Arnot Geary, Will Montgomery, John O’Neill Jr., Noel Nutt, Lloyd Price, Sam Price and John Bottom.