Monday, December 14, 2009

Family, friends, hometown miss all things “Blue”

The first time I met Blue Jones, it was obvious I was meeting “the nicest smart aleck in Alabama” as I later heard him described. But I didn’t know that night – when he immediately started teasing me and my husband, who was not even there – that this smiling, red-headed banker would become such an important part of our lives in Camden.

But, by the time he died on Dec. 15, 2006 -- snatched way too soon by a rare cancer -- I knew that he was a unique no-matter-what friend. We all knew by then that there was no one like Blue Jones.

See, I met Blue right after we moved to Camden, Blue’s hometown, from Selma. I was at Gaines-Ridge Dinner Club in the fireplace room, sandwiched between Camden people who would become our best friends during our 15 years living there. Blue, who was nicknamed that because his hair was so red, and his wife Kay were sitting catty-corner from me.

“Where’s yo’ husband? Blue asked.

“Oh, he’s at a biathlon, you know, bicycling and running,” I said, explaining that husband Frank and a work buddy were in north Alabama participating in a charity biking and running event.

“BI-athlon?” Blue answered, making sure that everyone at the table could hear him. “BI-athlon? I think it’s more like a DI-athlon, you know, drinkin’ and dancin’!”

So began the friendship with Blue and his not-a-smart-aleck wife Kay, with Blue teasing and getting the laugh. I’d learn that Blue teased folks he liked. He didn’t bother with those he didn’t.

Blue died three years ago this week. I doubt Dec. 15 will ever pass without us all thinking about Blue. The hole he left in Camden and in our lives remains and probably always will.

Born and raised in Wilcox County and educated at his beloved Auburn University, Blue Jones was a leader, friend, coach, businessman, outdoorsman and cattle and timber farmer. He volunteered at Wilcox Academy and with most every cause that served his hometown of Camden and the people of Wilcox, including his church, Camden United Methodist Church.

At Camden National Bank, Blue could talk to a millionaire one minute and the next, counsel with the poorest customer, working to help them figure a workable way out. Camden and Wilcox County did not have a better champion.

Blue was also a River Rat, capital Rs. He loved the Alabama River – having been raised on it. Countless boat rides – including some when he had to jump in and tow us out of the mud, or, in one instance, swim-tow us in after a prop fell off – complete our memories of Blue. Whether it was pulling children on a tube or just tooling up and down and around the Alabama River, Blue was there and happy. And if your boat broke down, you wanted Blue around. Today, we still go on boat rides; sometimes Kay comes with us, and we always think of Blue.

We began a tradition of family vacations together at the Alabama Gulf Coast, the Jones, the Walburns, the Huggins and the Williams. Most times, Blue brought the pontoon boat, the red one with the plastic chairs for supplemental seating. You could hear our laughter, above the hum of the engine, as our rag-tag crew cruised around Ono Island, a happy contrast to the yachts and the Boston Whalers zipping by us. We truly would not have traded places.

Blue loved music and dancing and having a good time. He loved Neil Young, despite Southern Man or maybe because of it. After he died, we argued over what was his favorite rock n’roll song, but Kay was the final arbitrator. It was Gimme Three Steps by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

We had a party at Blue’s camphouse the night after his funeral. “Party,” he had mouthed and motioned to Kay, during his final days in UAB’s intensive care unit. So, we had a party at the camphouse, like we used to do. We laughed about things that were “so Blue.” His grown children, Bill and Anne, were there with their friends, and we tried to surround Kay with her friends and happy memories shared.

It was a bittersweet night. The camphouse, at the center of family land Blue tended and loved, seemed to be waiting on him to return. His wading boots hung on the end of the hammock, where he had left them to dry.

The camphouse, his family, his friends and his hometown -- they all still miss Blue. We see him in the Eagles flying above the Alabama River or in the turkeys through a field. We see him in the sunset over Pine Barren Creek, and we miss him.

But, in typical Blue fashion, he’d tell us all to ease up.

“Don’t go wishing and worrying your life away,” Blue would say.

“You better enjoy the day the Lord has given you. You don’t know what’s coming next.”

Amen to that, Blue.

Picture of the day:

Blue and Kay Jones, on a boat ride at the beach.

Song of the day:
Heart of Gold, Neil Young


  1. Wonderful words about an amazing person! Thanks for sharing your thoughts...I've enjoyed reading all of your blogs!

  2. What an awesome post! I really enjoyed this and could hear his voice as I was reading the things he used to say! Oh, how we all miss Blue!

  3. Thanks, Jackie. We knew him as "Gump" but also sometimes as Blue. :o) He was a fun person to be around at the Alpha Gamma Rho house at Auburn. Thanks, Toots, for the link. War Eagle!