JONES REMEMBERED: Congressman leaves a legacy of public service

Published 5:56 pm Monday, February 11, 2019

Congressman Walter B. Jones Jr. died Sunday afternoon at age 76, leaving behind a legacy of 37 years of public service in the North Carolina General Assembly and the U.S. House of Representatives.

In Beaufort County, Jones is remembered as someone who would work across the aisle without compromising his ideals. From both the left and the right, politicians speak highly of his character and his service.

Jones was the second in an eastern North Carolina political dynasty stretching back to the 1940s. His father served as mayor of Farmville from 1949 to 1953 before he was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly, where he served from 1955 to 1965. In 1965, Jones Sr. was elected as a Democrat in a special election brought about by the death of U.S. Representative Herbert C. Bonner.

In 1982, Jones. Jr. made his entrance into the political arena after being elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives as a Democrat. Jones ran for and lost his father’s Congressional seat in 1992 after Jones Sr. announced his retirement. Switching parties and running as a Republican in 1994, Jones won election in the revised North Carolina’s 3rd U.S. Congressional District. After his inauguration in February 1995, Jones proceeded to represent wide swath of eastern North Carolina for 24 years.

A member of the North Carolina National Guard from 1967 to 1971, Jones was known for a tireless advocacy on behalf of veterans and veterans’ issues, serving on the House Armed Services Committee from 2011 until the time of his death.

“Congressman Jones was a man of the people. With a kind heart and the courage of his convictions, he dedicated his life to serving his Savior and to standing up for Americans who needed a voice. He was a champion for our men and women in uniform and their families, always mindful of their service and sacrifice,” read a statement issued by his office Sunday. “Congressman Jones will long be remembered for his honesty, faith and integrity. He was never afraid to take a principled stand. He was known for his independence and widely admired across the political spectrum. Some may not have agreed with him, but all recognized that he did what he thought was right. … He will be sorely missed.”


“I am grateful for the life and service of my longtime friend Congressman Walter Jones Jr. He was a public servant who was true to his convictions and who will be missed.” — N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper

“Congressman Walter B. Jones, Jr. was the true embodiment of a public servant. He will be long remembered for his tireless advocacy for eastern North Carolina, which he loved dearly, and for always following his convictions, no matter the political cost. He always did what he felt was right for his constituents, his district and his country, and it was no wonder why he was so widely admired and trusted. It was a true honor to serve with Walter Jones. Susan and I send our deepest condolences to Joe Anne and his loving family.” — U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis

“Walter Jones was a man of decency, honor and upstanding moral character. He and I used to travel together back and forth from North Carolina when I had the privilege of serving alongside him in Congress. Jones’ legacy will undoubtedly be the unequivocal advocacy he put forth for the men and women who serve in this country’s armed forces, and not just those who lived in his district, but across the nation. There was no better champion for eastern North Carolina than Walter Jones. My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.” — NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes

“Congressman Jones was a great statesman who dedicated his life to serving the families of eastern North Carolina. His commitment to public service is an example for all North Carolinians. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.” — Statement by N.C. Democratic Party

“The passing of Congressman Walter Jones is truly a monumental loss for the 3rd Congressional District and the nation as a whole. Congressman Jones was an inspiration to me in that he always did what he believed was right for the people even if it was not politically expedient. One of the most impressive things about Congressman Jones was his love of country and the veterans. But mostly his love of God. At every event he would finish his talks with invoking God three times to bless the United States. Now I believe Congressman Jones rests in the arms of his Savior. God Bless you Walter Jones.” — N.C. Representative Keith Kidwell

“He was a good man, and he was an honorable man. If you called him, you always got a response from him. If you set an appointment with him, he always kept it. He was always cordial and always friendly. One of the things I liked most about him is that he was honest about everything. He was straight-up and honest, and in politics today, you don’t see that a whole lot.” — Beaufort County Commissioner Jerry Langley

“At the end of the day, Jones was a conservative. His conservatism was closely linked to his Christianity, so it made him a good performer for the people. He was always the same, and he did a great job of keeping a good staff to look after the people in his district.” —Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson

“Congressman Jones was a true friend to Beaufort County and eastern North Carolina, especially our military. He was a man that you could work with. He didn’t have a problem with working across the aisle or letting you know what his beliefs were. We have always found him to be true to his word.” Beaufort County Commissioner Ed Booth

“My history with Walter Jones began in 1994 when we were both running for office for the first time as republicans. I was running for an at-large position on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners and Walter Jones was running for the First District to unseat Eva B. Clayton. I helped him campaign in Beaufort County and we discussed many issues, including the contract with America, by Newt Gingrich. That had a profound influence on me. I also discovered, as a conservative republican, we did not agree on all issues. One issue we agreed on is that Christianity plays a major force in the better decisions we make.” — Beaufort County Commissioner Stan Deatherage