John Hugh Jones, Jr., age 75, joined those who have gone before us on Thursday, July 2, 2020. He was under the care of Heartland Hospice at Azura Memory Care in Wausau, Wisconsin.
If you were asked what character traits come to mind to describe John the words most frequently used would be integrity, accountability, duty and responsibility. He had a strong drive to do what was right. This drive was evidenced by his dedication and focus on his family and on his career. John had a wonderful sense of humor, he was humble and he had compassion. He was a proud and loving father, grandfather and husband. He will be sadly missed.
John was born July 29, 1944 in Appleton, Wisconsin to John Hugh “Jack” Jones and to LaVonne Carol Reece Jones. His parents and his grandparents, O.R. and Catherine Jones and Elmina Reece were the family structure that influenced John and his character development that would serve him for a lifetime. He was a child of imagination who loved physical geography, maps and strategy. He was unfailingly polite, a trait he thanked his Mother for instilling. John enjoyed the outdoors throughout his life. This could be attributed to the family cottage traditions he experienced at Jones Point in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.
John was less than a year old the first time he went to the cottage built by his grandparents, O.R. (Deac) and Catherine Jones. There are several family cottages on Jones Point, which is home to many Jones family and Welsh traditions. John’s grandfather, Deac taught John to fish and to hunt while at the lake. John then shared those skills with his own family and also with his friends. He was proud that his grandchildren represent the 6th generation of Jones kids to experience the cold and clear lake water and the chance to play “Kick the Can” at the Point.
John liked to tell about his early growing up years spent in Badger Village, which was located at the old Badger Ammunition Plant in Baraboo, Wisconsin. Families of returning WWII veterans were housed there so that the veterans could attend school at the UW-Madison campus. John’s father, Jack, was a Navy veteran. Jack rode the bus to Madison daily so he could attend law school. John would follow in his father’s footsteps years later when after graduating from Horicon High School in ‘62 and UW-Oshkosh in ’66 (Magna Cum Laude) he would attend law school at UW-Madison and would graduate Cum Laude in 1969.
During his college summers John worked for John Deere in Horicon, WI. He was proud to be on the production line that built the first yard and garden tractors. One of those tractors is on display at a local John Deere dealer. John took great pride in pointing out that model and telling the story of ‘working the line’ that produced that tractor.
His ‘John Deere Pride’ continued into his adult life. He delighted in purchasing progressively larger and more powerful John Deere tractors that helped keep the yard at home looking neat but that were rugged enough to handle heavy cutting and hauling work at the farm in south Marathon County, located in the Town of Guenther. He used to refer to the farm as his ‘painter’s palette’. John planted hundreds of trees – balsam, white and red pine, black spruce, apple and Whitney crab trees. Planting those trees was his way of improving the wildlife habitat, to be one with nature and which was yet another place he could enjoy his beloved tractor. He cut paths thru the property so that he could ‘inspect’ his young plantings. Some of the trees he planted at the farm are now over 30 feet tall!
After graduating from law school, John was headed to work at Wausau Insurance Companies as a trial attorney in the Wausau Regional Office. He had been a summer fellowship trainee for Wausau Insurance the summer prior to the job offer. The Vietnam War would interrupt those plans for 4 years.
John voluntarily enlisted in the army and was assigned to the JAG Corps. He spent time at Fort Riley, Kansas before shipping out to Vietnam where he served for a year and a day. He spent more time than he cared to tally in C-130’s and in helicopters as he flew along a 500-mile jurisdiction from Long Binh to Can Tho Bin Thuy. When he returned stateside he was stationed at Fort Belvoir in Virginia where he taught Military Justice. After being honorably discharged from active duty, he enlisted in the Army Reserves. He retired in 1984 after achieving the rank of Major.
During his adult lifetime, John would talk infrequently about his military experiences. He was proud to be a veteran and more than once he commented that, for him, it was ‘grow up time’. He saw more than he would speak of, but never regretted his choice to serve. He was proud of his military service and when he recognized that he was in the presence of a fellow veteran he was quick to thank them their service.
That ‘grow up time’ led to his 38 year career with Wausau Insurance, Nationwide Insurance and then with Nationwide Indemnity. During the time he worked for Wausau Insurance he held many positions: Wausau Region Trial Attorney, Wausau Region Legal Manager, Vice-President for Government Affairs, Senior Vice-President of Claims and Loss Management Services and General Counsel.
Transitioning thru the Wausau Insurance merger with Nationwide Insurance, John was elected to the position of Vice-President – Trial Counsel and had offices in Wausau, WI and in Columbus Ohio. His reputation during that time was marked with determination and perseverance. When he was given a job, he would finish it. When his name was on the task, it was done right and done well.
His final position was to be Senior Vice-President of Nationwide Indemnity. He returned to Wausau and held that position until his retirement at the end of June in 2006.
John would want all of you who worked with him at Wausau Insurance, Nationwide Insurance and at Nationwide Indemnity to know how much he enjoyed being on your team. He was proud to be a part of your collective successes and accomplishments and considered it a privilege getting to know all of you.
Though his career accomplishments were impressive, John would always state that his family was his biggest and most precious life’s accomplishment. It all started when John married Cheryl Scheibe on May 17, 1975. They had three children, added two sons–in–law and celebrated the birth of three grandchildren. John and Cheryl celebrated 45 years of married life this past May.
A loving and doting husband, father and grandfather, John was a man who loved to sit at the kitchen table laughing at jokes until he wiped his eyes, he sledded down the hill at the front of the house with his children in tow on big tractor tubes, attended endless soccer and baseball games, proudly watched horse shows (sneezed his way thru those!) and braved chilly ice rinks performances. He enjoyed teaching his family (and on occasion, his friends) how to fish and how to shoot skeet. He excelled at Easter egg hunts, playing hide and seek, building tents and reading books with his grand children. He truly enjoyed his role as Grandpa. Family time was important to him and his presence will be greatly missed as we move forward without him.
John is survived by his wife, Cheryl Jones and by his daughters, Jennifer (Christopher) Schmitt and Jessica Jones-Carver (Jon Carver). He has three grandchildren, Parker, Cooper and Macie Schmitt. He is further survived by his sister, Ann (Ron) DeMark and by his sister–in-law and brother-in-law Debbie and Dale Nachman. He also has many nieces and a nephew.
John was preceded in death by his son, John Robert Jones, his parents, Jack and LaVonne Jones and by his in-laws, Robert and Tece Scheibe
John’s family would like to thank the staff of Azura Memory Care and Heartland Hospice for their compassionate and attentive care during his brief stay.
Because we care about our family and our friends, we are not planning a visitation or a service at this time. We will be planning a Celebration of Life at a later date when the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided. We want to be able to truly visit, share stories and share a hug with each of you.
If you would like to receive a notice of that future gathering, please send us a note at JHJJRfamily@gmail.com
We would love to hear from you and if you have stories to share about your time with John PLEASE send them to us. We will compile those stories and have them available for you to enjoy at John’s Celebration of Life.
If you wish, contributions in the name: John H. Jones Jr. can be made to either:
The Wounded Warrior Project:
The Alzheimer’s Association: https://act.alz.org/site/TR There is a tribute page dedicated to John at this site.
We miss you Dad, Grandpa and Beloved Husband and Best Friend - you will forever be in our hearts.
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