On Saturday, June 27, 2020, Tom Jones of Little Rock lost his struggle with mental illness, and we lost a father, husband, son, brother, uncle, and dear friend way too early. Tom was creative, competitive, funny, smart, quirky, and kind. He delighted in making people laugh, playing catch, recording silly cow videos, hanging out with big dogs, quoting movie lines, going to water parks with his kids, answering trivia questions, finding snakes/animals "in the wild," and challenging those best at their sport to a friendly "one-on-one." If you knew him for very long, you knew his one rule: "if it touches your hands, you have to catch it."
Tom's most cherished days were spent in the sunshine. He was happiest playing sports, being at the beach, or even doing yard work as long as he had the sun on his face. He excelled at rugby, ping pong, golf, swimming, racquetball, football, basketball, baseball, soccer, bowling, cornhole, competed in numerous triathlons and three marathons. An athletic challenge energized him. Being an ambidextrous athlete allowed him to lull his opponents into complacency, switch hands, and deliver a crushing defeat, which always made for a good story. He cheered for the Arkansas Razorbacks, but his favorite team without question was the Chicago Blackhawks. During the pandemic, his outfit of the day always included a Blackhawk logo somewhere.
Tom was born in Cleveland, Ohio, grew up in Fairview Park, and graduated from Fairview Park High School. He graduated Cum Laude from Muskingum College with a B.S. in Psychology and Communication. Tom pitched for the Muskingum baseball team, competed on the debate team, and was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity. He earned a Masters from Illinois State University, where he found one of the loves of his life, the game of rugby. After graduation, he moved to Chicago and joined the Lincoln Park Rugby Football Club as a Winger. In 2002, Tom returned to Chicago with Sarah and their children to play with the "Old Boys" in a reunion game. He was ecstatic to score three tries -- he had predicted only 2.
Tom's work experiences reflect his versatility and adaptability. His "get up and get it done" work ethic began with mowing lawns and building pools. His professional sales and management career included employment at: VTI Communication (Chicago IL), The Fine Art Index (Chicago IL), International Houseware Association (Rosemont IL), DAV Transportation (Cary IL), Acxiom Corporation (Conway AR), 4B Holdings (Little Rock AR), Stuart Burke Home Development (Little Rock AR), ShelterWorks (St Louis MO), Terra Renewal (Russellville AR), Darling Ingredients (Irving TX), Midwest Organics (Sikeston MO), and since 2017 Denali Water Solutions (Russellville AR).
Tom was funny. You either "got him" or you didn't, and he was okay with that. His wit was quick and sometimes quirky. He loved to tease and stir the pot. But once Tom embraced you as his friend, you were his friend for life.
Tom loved his family and considered his friends to be family as well. He continued to learn and grow in empathy as the result of thoughtful debates with Walker and Camie. Their activities were a great source of joy for Tom, but he was most proud of their compassionate and loving dispositions. When Walker and Camie were in preschool, Tom used his unique unicycle and juggling skills to delight them and their classmates. He continued this tradition over the years visiting Sarah's preschool class and filling the room with wonder and glee.
Tom is survived by his wife of 26 years Sarah Thibault Jones, son Walker Jones of Littleton CO, daughter Cameron "Camie" Jones of Savannah GA, mother Mary Lou Jones of Wimauma FL, sister Becky Jones Verbance of Wesley Chapel FL and three nieces, a nephew and a handful of friends he considered to be his brothers. He was preceded in death by his father, Thomas L. Jones.
We appreciate your prayers and kind thoughts. Losing a loved one is never easy, and during a pandemic, it is especially so. We long to gather and share our "Tom stories," so we can begin to heal our broken hearts. However, due to the pandemic, we cannot be together. In honor of his memory, donations can be made to Our House (PO Box 34155, Little Rock, AR 72203; ourhouseshelter.org), which acts with love and concern for all people and helps to build a pathway out of homelessness for families and individuals. As we remember Tom, we hope that you will feel the sun on your face today - one of Tom's favorite things to do - and take the time to check in on those you love and miss and tell them so.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Thomas Leslie Jones, Jr., please visit our floral store.