SYRACUSE — When Steve Jones died of multiple myeloma in late January of 2018, more than 400 people packed into the bleachers at the North Webster Elementary School gymnasium for his funeral service. The gym was where Jones taught physical education for 21 years.
Of the people in the crowded gym, Molly and Lori Jones were two of the most affected.
“My dad was a fighter. He had perseverance and fought his illness, but much more than that, he had so much love to give,” Molly said.
After he died, Jones’ family decided they wanted to continue his legacy in the form of a scholarship, The Stephen G. Jones Memorial Scholarship, given to students in the Wawasee and Warsaw school districts who plan to go into either law enforcement or education. Jones had been a Warsaw football coach.
“New people who move into the community and new students who come through the elementary school won’t know who Steve Jones is. We want him to be remembered for all the great things he did,” Lori, his wife, said.
AN ADVOCATE FOR CHILDREN
Jones was known in the community as a person who loved others deeply, especially children, as well as his family, Lori said. According to his family, he had a deep appreciation for young people and that showed in just about everything he did.
His family also said that Jones’ goofy personality, paired with his extreme kindness helped to foster an impacting career in education, and as he cared for his children — both the ones he taught and his own — they cared for him.
Jones came from a broken family, primarily raised by his grandparents. Despite his rough childhood, he went on to be very successful, according to his family.
He attended Salem College in West Virginia, before transferring to Anderson. He graduated from Anderson with a bachelor’s degree in 1984. Jones continued his education at Indiana Wesleyan University, receiving his master’s degree, with both degrees being in education.
For nine years, after completing his graduate work, Jones worked as a police officer in Anderson. Due to his concerns about his safety, he left the force to pursue a career in education.
Troy Akers, long-time friend and principle of North Webster Elementary School, said Jones was always working to make people better human beings.
“When Steve died, he left a void in a lot of people’s lives,” Akers said.
In 2006, Jones was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. Along with his wife, he traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas, to the University of Arkansas to receive treatment through the Sam Walton endowment fund.
After several years of treatment, Jones went into remission. But the cancer came back.
“Initially, we were told he had about two years. He ended up living for 12.” His wife, Lori, said.
According to Lori, Jones was a fighter. He had perseverance and never gave up.
Although battling cancer, Jones never fully retired from his teaching position. He couldn’t give up his career in public education his family said.
“We became really close in the years before he died,” Molly said.
According to her, Jones took her with him when he received his treatments and through his illness, their relationship was strengthened.
Jones’ love of the outdoors inspired Molly to get involved with Elkhart County 4-H. She became active in the Saddle Club and is still very involved.
This year, in addition to her involvement with horses, Molly was a fair queen contestant. According to her, Jones was extremely supportive of her 4-H activities.
Along with his wife and daughter, he left behind two sons, Jacob and Hunter. Hunter died in June 2018.
Camden Chaffee can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 314.
HOW TO HELP
Donations to the Stephen G. Jones Memorial Scholarship may be made through the Kosciusko County Community Foundation, 102 E. Market St., Warsaw, IN 46580 or by going to www.kcfoundation.org.