Edley Jones, long-time Rotarian, inducted into hall of fame
Published 9:51 am Friday, July 31, 2015
Sixty-year secretary of the Vicksburg Rotary Club Edley Jones, 87, attended the organization’s meeting Thursday after he spent seven hours in chemotherapy treatment the day before.
“I think that speaks volumes about his dedication,” Rotary President Annette Kirklin said.
Jones has been a Rotary member for 65 years. He has served as secretary for 60 of those years.
Last week, Jones was named to the Rotary Heritage and History Hall of Fame. He is one of only 120 people who have ever been admitted into the hall of fame. To put that number in perspective, Former president of Vicksburg Rotary Don Jarratt said there are currently 1.25 million members of Rotary International and there have been 4 million members of the 34,000 clubs in its 110-year history.
“The minimum requirement to get in the hall of fame is 50 years of formal service to Rotary,” Jarratt said. “And he’s beaten that by 11 years.”
His picture and a biography will be displayed at Rotary’s International Convention.
“It’s a very distinctive honor,” Kirklin said. “We tried our best to surprise him.”
Vicksburg Rotary had a luau last week to recognize their accomplishments over the past year, like the club’s Presidential Citation, and they kept Jones’ award a secret from him. International Rotary President K. H. Ravidran wrote Jones a letter and two district governors came to the luau to give him the award.
“That was a shocker to me,” Jones said.
Jones said he joined Rotary because his father and grandfather were members. Edley Jones Sr. served as secretary for 20 years.
Until recently, secretary and treasurer were one job, but the club has now named a treasurer.
Besides his 60 years as secretary, Jones spent a year as vice president and then a year as president.
“He is Rotary of Vicksburg,” Kirklin said.
Kirklin said the district has an award they give in Jones’ name for attendance called the Edley Jones Attendance Award.
Jarrett said last year’s Rotary International president congratulated Jones on his 60 years of service while he was in Mississippi for the Rotary Club of Jackson’s 100th anniversary.
“He has the distinction of being congratulated by two Rotary International presidents in succession for his accomplishments,” Jarrett said.
Being a past president, Jarrett can see how Jones’ influence keeps the club going by bridging the transition of officers from year to year. Both Jarrett and Kirklin have relied on him to make sure the club runs according to plan.
Jones spent 55 years in the insurance business before hanging it up and focusing on Rotary. He calls Rotary a full-time job and works diligently over the phone and through email daily. Lots of paperwork and a newsletter are some of the duties Jones takes on for the club.
In fact, he’s known statewide for his weekly newsletter, Rotary Rogue, which has made the transition from snail mail to email. Rotary members from across the state of Mississippi receive the newsletter in their inboxes.
“I’ve been spinning it out for 60 years, and I’ve never missed an edition so far,” Jones said.
That makes about 3,120 editions. Jarret added that Jones’ license plate reads “RRouge.”
Member Pam Mayfield said when her dad, who was also in Rotary, passed away, she found newsletters from 40 years ago in his belongings. She was proud for Jones to receive such a prestigious honor.
Not only is he known for his newsletter, he is also known for his sense of humor. Members of Rotary found it hard to put into words.
“Whether it’s a sense of humor or his dedication to Rotary or the community, he’s just full of life,” Kirklin said.
Not long ago, Jones was in a hit-and-run accident on the interstate that caused almost $7,000 worth of damage to his vehicle. He began having back pains shortly after and wasn’t sure if it was from the wreck or from working out six days a week.
Neither option seemed to be the case when doctors found there was a tumor on his spine. Jones underwent seven hours of chemotherapy Wednesday and said he will hopefully only have one more treatment.
“Somebody paid me a nice compliment and said I was the glue that held the club together, and I thought that was real nice of them,” Jones said.