John Emory Jones Jr., 86, of Oak Ridge, went to be with the Lord on July 25, 2022. John was born on Dec. 3, 1935, in Corbin, KY, to parents John Emory Jones Sr. and Allie Hopper Jones. John graduated from Corbin High School in 1954. After high school, he attended the University of Kentucky, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1958. John married his high school sweetheart, Emilie Mathes, on June 2, 1957. After marriage and graduation, he moved to Oak Ridge, TN, and began his career at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1958. He spent the next two decades as a devoted husband and dad, raising his four children.
He worked at ORNL from July 1958 to Dec. 1994, where he retired as the Director of Engineering Technology Division. At ORNL, he became an expert in control rod drives for nuclear reactors, desalting technology, and plant design, fluidized bed coal combustion technology, and the handling and storage of nuclear materials. After retiring from ORNL, he joined Hazelwood Enterprises Inc. as the Vice President of the new company. He worked there from April 1995 to 2006, when HEI was purchased by TetraTech. He continued working part-time at TetraTech until Dec. 2021. He spent much of this time working on nuclear materials handling and the design of nuclear materials storage facilities. During his career, he developed several technologies for which he was granted patents.
While working at Hazelwood, he took a break to fulfill a dream to ride his recumbent bicycle across the US. He left from Seattle, WA, on May 27, 1995, traveling through the Northwest, then down along the Mississippi River, through his hometown of Corbin, KY, and finishing at Wrightsville Beach, NC, on Aug 2, 1995. The 3750-mile trip took him just 68 days. Along the way, he gained a healthy respect for the Cascades Mountains, met a lot of very nice people, and enjoyed a unique tour of America. Shortly after completing his ride across the country, he was involved in a near-fatal head-on collision on his way home from work. He was flown to UT Medical Center where he was in the ICU for approximately two months, and then transferred to Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center. He spent nearly 3 months in hospitals recovering from his injuries, including the loss of his right leg.
John was also active in the community, serving for four years on the Oak Ridge Planning Commission as well as serving eight years on the Oak Ridge City Council. In addition, he served as the Assistant Scoutmaster (aka Big John) for Troup 228 in Oak Ridge for many years, encouraging, developing, and leading many scouts (including his three sons) through the program. John was a big proponent of higher education, at one point having 3 of his 4 children and his wife all in college at the same time. And he was also a strong patriot who took the time to write a letter to each of his grandchildren discussing the parallels between WWII and the Terrorist Attack on 9/11.
John loved his church, where he made many dear friends. He has been an active member since moving to Oak Ridge. He served on the personnel committee and the pastor search committee, as well as participating in other ministries of the church. John enjoyed basketball (especially Kentucky Wildcat basketball), tennis, cycling, and bridge. He enjoyed connecting with people, and was a wonderful storyteller, especially related to times when he was growing up. One of his favorite things was spending time with his wife and family. He was a devoted husband to his wife of 61 years, and a very devoted father, grandfather, and great grandfather. He was loved by all who met him and will be deeply missed by his family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his wife Emilie M. Jones, his parents John and Allie Jones, sisters Gladys Jones Engle and Alma Lee Jones and Lelia Jones Cox, brothers Lt. Clarence J. Jones and Lt. Carl Tilford Jones. He was also preceded in death by his son, Jeff Jones, and grandsons Sanwaun Jones and Nathan Jones.
John is survived by his children Jim Jones (Micki), West Lafayette, IN, Kim Holt (Barney), Madison, AL, and Keith Jones (Stacey), Knoxville, TN; and daughter-in-law Connie Jones, Columbia, SC. He is also survived by his grandchildren Kelsey Jones, Kevin Jones (Jamie), Kayla Deckard (Steven), Matthew Holt (Caroline), Allison Price (Jason), Paul Jones, Micah Jones (fiancé Zoie), and Tatyana Walker (Keaton); and great-grandchildren Zeke Jones, Eleanor Jones, Benelli Deckard, Luke Holt, Emma Holt, Eric Holt, Emilie Price, and Bryce Jones. In addition, he is survived by many other nieces and nephews. The family wishes to express their appreciation to the Staff and saints at Central Baptist Church for their phone calls, cards, visits, and many expressions of kindness both recently as well as over the past few years.
The family will receive friends at Central Baptist Church of Oak Ridge from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, July 30th. A celebration of life service will follow at 7 pm with the Rev. James Raffety officiating. The graveside service will be held at Pine Hill Cemetery in Corbin, KY, on Sunday, July 31, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials or donations be made to: Tunnel to Towers Foundation (t2t.org) or Samaritan’s Purse (samaritanspurse.org)