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Charles Jones

August 17, 1937 - August 15, 2017

Charles Jones was born in Pleasant Hill, Louisiana the youngest of five children born to Reverend & Mrs. Joseph Jones. His humble beginnings in Pleasant Hill are significant because it was here that he received nurturing and guidance from his parents which helped prepare him to be a good businessman. They instilled in him sound principles about how to live. They taught him self-respect, how to treat others, self-discipline, and were themselves examples of a strong work ethic. Most of all, they encouraged him to always do and be his best – striving for excellence.

With this foundation, a young Charles believed he could achieve anything he desired, and at a very young age, he began dreaming of owning his own business. Though he faced numerous obstacles growing up in a rural southern community (and throughout his life), he didn’t allow these challenges to prevent him from reaching his goals. In fact, he became even more determined to attain them. He always believed that people and/or circumstances don’t define who you are or what you become – you do. He is known for and has lived by this saying “It is not what happens to you in life that is important but how you respond to what happens to you that matters.” His response to adversity was to keep trying, working and praying – always giving his best. He was determined not to give up and because of this dedication, he was a successful man. He was a loving spouse, an excellent father and grandfather; and he was a mentor and role model to many.

Charles completed his early education in Pleasant Hill and graduated with the highest honor as class Valedictorian. With an interest in finance, he continued his education at Southern University, Baton Rouge, LA. He came to California in the 1950’s and later served in the United States Army as a Finance Specialist. During his enlistment, he was awarded the “Key to the City” while stationed in Olympia Washington. Charles also received special recognition from the then Governor Albert Roselini, for outstanding service. During this time, he married Jean Brown and to this union, one child was born – their daughter, Sandra.

Upon receiving an honorable discharge from the Army, he furthered his education at both the University of San Francisco and the San Francisco College of Mortuary Science in preparation for realizing his dream. After graduating and receiving his National Board Certification by the Funeral Service Examining Boards of the United States, Inc., he then commenced to further develop his expertise by working with several mortuaries in the Bay Area. While serving families in their time of need, he still held on to his dream – to build a mortuary that the residents would be proud of.

In 1970, he united in marriage to Rosie M. Ross who shared in his dream. In the interim, his financial background and qualifications allowed him to work for several companies in the Bay Area including Banneker Systems in Menlo Park where he served as the Financial Analyst for over 10 years. He was also highly sought after by others across the nation. Electronic Data Systems (EDS), a company owned by Henry Ross Perot (who would later run for President of the United States) twice offered him a position. After receiving the offer, he would later reflect that prior to making a decision, “I went home to my birthplace and on the banks of a creek that we fished and swam in as children, I laid my head on the open palms of my hand and stared at the clear blue skies and pondered what my decision should be. Contrary to the advise of my wife, my parents and my friends, I decided I would not take the offer, regardless of the size of the compensation, which was quite substantial. I realized that I was worth at least three or four times what I was being offered …and to the chagrin of my wife, my parents and friends, I declined the offer.”

Charles never lost sight of his dream. It was his desire to serve families during one of the most difficult periods of their lives. His dream was to build a mortuary and provide quality service to the residents of East Palo Alto and its surrounding communities.

In 1972, he established Jones Mortuary, Inc. and in 1975, the family moved to East Palo Alto when construction of the mortuary began.

In March 1976, the doors of Jones Mortuary, Inc. opened. Upon opening, the Jones’s developed a policy to help couples who lost their young babies. They provided complete funeral services, free of charge, for babies under one month old whose family could not afford burial expenses. This commitment was born out of an experience his wife Rose had as a small child when her mother gave birth to a baby boy who died, and her parents were unable to pay the mortuary fees. When they opened Jones Mortuary, Charles and Rose decided to do what they could to help families in similar situations. To date, he has provided free services for thousands of infants.

Known for his empathetic knack for being the calm in the emotional storm that follows the death of loved ones, Charles built a business that adeptly walks people through the details of saying final farewells to family and friends. On several occasions, Jones Mortuary has been recommended by members of the community to families who are in financial distress when the death of a loved one occurs. Mr. Jones, through his compassion and caring, has helped them to arrange services that were dignified, yet affordable. He was also known to help those with no financial ability to bury loved ones.

Charles was very community minded and lived a life that demonstrated his commitment to serve and give to others. This was seen in several ways. He was an avid proponent of local businesses. Charles always insisted on meeting in local eateries with people who were prospecting for his business. “I always tell them that if they want my business, then they should be willing to spend money in the community that accounts for the bulk of my clientele.”

Charles worked to help the local and surrounding communities by using his business success to give back. Specifically, he volunteered his time to local organizations; provided financial support to various groups which assisted with their building efforts and served to underwrite the costs of their outreach programs and ministries; and he has advertised with almost every minority organization that has contacted him since being in business. Charles participated in numerous career day activities and other speaking engagements, provided on-site tours, worked with the Menlo Park Police Department’s “Say No to Drugs” program, and he assisted a local grassroots substance abuse rehabilitation & support center. Charles also served on the Advisory Council for the Department of Mortuary Science at American River College in Sacramento and did so for almost fifteen years.

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