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PRINCETON -- Bobby Kenneth "Deacon" Jones, 69, of 6687 U.S. 70 East, founder of Deacon Jones Automotive Group, passed away on Saturday at Dr. P. Phillips Hospital in Orlando, Fla.

Mr. Jones died from heart complications resulting from a heart attack, which occurred on Christmas evening just after he arrived in Orlando for the winter season.

Mr. Jones was born on May 19, 1940, and was the son of the late Rev. Clyde and Mary Jones. Deacon was raised in a loving Christian home, along with his three sisters and a brother.

He graduated from Princeton High School in 1958, where he played on the baseball and championship basketball teams. It was during his high school years that the nickname "Deacon" was born. The high school students, in fun, called him "Deacon" because his father was a minister, and the name has been with him ever since.

After high school graduation, he received a sports scholarship to Oak Ridge Military Institute. There he was a starter on the baseball and basketball teams, playing teams in the Junior College division across the state of North Carolina.

Mr. Jones was a longtime member for 48 years of the Princeton Church of God, in Princeton. His father, the late Rev. Clyde Jones, served there as pastor for a total of 13 years.

In 1970, Mr. Jones began his first business venture, Princeton Auto Sales, a preowned car lot in Princeton. In 1978, he opened his first new car dealership on Market Street in Smithfield, offering Buick and Pontiac vehicles. A new facility opened at 1115 N. Bright Leaf Blvd. in 1985. At that time he added the Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge franchises. In the following years, the GMC, Cadillac, Chevrolet and Jeep franchises were added to this location.

The Smithfield location is now known as Deacon Jones Auto Park. Over the years, Mr. Jones purchased several other dealerships. In addition to the Auto Park, Mr. Jones was the owner of Deacon Jones Clearance Center in Princeton, Deacon Jones Ford-Lincoln-Mercury, Deacon Jones Nissan, and Deacon Jones Kia in Goldsboro, Smithfield Chevrolet in Smithfield and Deacon Jones Preowned Super Stores located in Kinston and Fayetteville.

Mr. Jones served on the Johnston Memorial Hospital board of trustees for 51/2 years. He was elected to the Johnston County Board of Education in 1980 and served there for 20 years. He was a past member of the Princeton Lions Club where he has served as president. He also served as president of the Princeton PTO and as president of the Princeton Boosters Club. He served as a member of the board of directors of First Citizens Bank. Mr. Jones was a current member of the board of directors at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., where he served for 23 years. Mr. Jones was also a past member of the Board of Directors at Mount Olive College in Mount Olive.

Deacon Jones and his dealerships have earned many awards over the years, including Buick Best in Class, the Silver Dealer Award, and Platinum Dealer status. Mr. Jones' awards and recognitions include: The Greater Smithfield Selma Area Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizens Award, The Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Hunt, Honorary Citizen of Cleveland, Tenn., where Lee University is located, and the Golden Key Award to the City of Cleveland, Tenn., by the mayor. In June of 2009, Mr. Jones was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the North Carolina Automobile Dealers Association, which recognizes dealer members who have displayed a lifelong commitment to the automobile industry. The Lifetime Achievement Award has been awarded to only 36 dealers, who embody the true spirit of successful entrepreneurs, civic leaders and industry stalwarts.

Mr. Jones was a loving husband, father, grandfather and brother. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Faye Woodall Jones. He is also survived by two sons and daughters-in-law, Bobby Kenneth "Ken" Jones II and wife, Donna, of Princeton, Anthony Dale Jones and wife, Lisa of Princeton; one daughter and son-in-law, Tina Jones Winborne and husband, Steve of Smithfield. His surviving grandchildren are Christina Jones, Bobby Kenneth "Trey" Jones III, Anthony Dale Jones II, Cole Winborne, Brooke Winborne, Elizabeth Barnes Smith and Chris Barnes. Mr. Jones is also survived by his brother, Steve Wesley Jones and wife, Paula of Goldsboro; sisters Frances Roberts and husband, Ernest, of Hiddenite, and Grace Pearce and husband, Frank, of Princeton.

Mr. Jones was preceded in death by his parents, the Rev. and Mrs. Clyde Jones; and a sister, Lillian J. Hollowell.

A celebration service to celebrate the life and legacy of Mr. Jones will be held on Thursday at Johnston Community College Auditorium from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. A prelude concert will begin at 5:30 p.m., featuring the Voices of Lee Singers from Lee University, in Cleveland, Tenn.

The family will receive friends immediately following the service.

A private graveside interment will be held.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to the Deacon Jones Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 2280, Smithfield, NC, 27577 or c/o of Casey Funeral Home, PO Box 237, Princeton, NC, 27569.

This scholarship fund will benefit Lee University in Cleveland Tenn., Johnston Community College in Smithfield, and Mount Olive College in Mount Olive. Any proceeds not designated to a particular institution will be equally disbursed among all three. This will allow the family to continue the legacy of helping others for many years to come. Each family member as well as each institution will receive a list of all contributors. A list will also be available on the Deacon Jones Web site: www.speakindeacon.com.

The family encourages others to share their memories, photos, or stories of how Mr. Jones touched their lives by sending an e-mail to deacon@deaconjonesautogroup.com, by visiting http://www.facebook.com/deaconsmemory, mail to Deacon Jones Memory at P.O. Box 2280, Smithfield, NC, or fax to 919-934-0681. These comments will become a part of their family memories and a keepsake that may be included in future tributes.

The family is being served by Casey Funeral Home in Princeton. Condolences may also be sent to caseyfuneralhome@msn.com.


Published in Obituaries on January 5, 2010 1:47 PM