Jones Family Legacy Runs Deep

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Jones Family Legacy Runs Deep

C. Henry Jones with his daughter, Susan Jones Childers ’81 at Ferrum College graduation in 1981 (right), and now (left).

Although he may not be a graduate of Ferrum College, C. Henry Jones is a prominent and valuable part of the Ferrum family. Jones first became associated with Ferrum College through a fellow Virginia Methodist Home Board of Directors member, who suggested that his business experience could be of great service to the College. She went so far as to talk to then-President Dr. Joseph Hart on his behalf. Jones grew up in Norfolk, had several friends and acquaintances that attended Ferrum College, and was aware of the College through his work with the Methodist Church. Appointed by the Board of Global Ministries, Jones began the first of many terms on the Ferrum College Board of Trustees in 1979. When his daughter, Susan Jones Childers ’81, began her freshman year at the institution, Jones and his wife, Ruby, were asked to be a part of the Parents’ Council, later serving as chairs. From 1979 to 1987, he served two consecutive terms as the chair of the Business Affairs Committee. Following a short absence, Jones returned to serve another four-year term from 1990 to 1994; he was named trustee emeritus in 1999 in recognition of his years of service and dedication to the College.

What the timeline of Jones’ service to Ferrum College doesn’t tell though, is the depth of his fondness for the institution. Upon the passing of Jones’ wife in 1983, a friend on the Board of Trustees discussed with him a gift in memory of his wife. Jones decided to fund a scholarship in her honor: The Ruby Lawson Jones Memorial Scholarship.

“I’m so proud of my daughter and grandson as Ferrum scholars and the relationship we have with Ferrum,” says Jones. This statement is echoed in his continued support of the College’s projects over the years, including campus improvements, the library upgrades, and faculty support.

“Ferrum is just where I wanted to be,” remarks Childers. The fact that her professors knew students by their names and were genuinely interested in students’ well-being, Childers believes, is a defining quality of Ferrum College. Her father’s continued involvement and the quality education she received have kept Childers involved in the College as well. But her connections run deeper than even this – she met her husband, Clark Childers ’80, while at the institution.  The pair were introduced by mutual friends after Clark enrolled at Ferrum to play tennis for Coach Bud Skeens. Following in the family footsteps, their son, Josh Childers ’09, also attended Ferrum College. His path was slightly different; he tried a larger university setting before realizing a smaller, more intimate setting was what he needed. While at Ferrum College, Josh met his wife, Amanda Hardnack Childers ’09, and the Ferrum family connections multiplied.

Josh ’09 and Amanda Hardnack Childers ’09

C. Henry Jones, his grandson, Josh Childers ’09, and President Jennifer Braaten at Commencement in 2009.

Currently, Childers and her husband reside in Georgia, where she is putting her degree in social work to good use as a social worker in a skilled nursing facility. Her husband earned a degree in recreation and leisure and is a senior buyer for Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Company. Their son, Josh, earned a history degree and is currently as assistant director at non-profit shelter in Gettysburg, PA. “What a coincidence it was to realize that one of my son’s professors was Dr. Richard Smith, who was also one of my professors when I was at Ferrum!” says Childers. Amanda Childers, Josh’s wife, is employed as a phlebotomist in Hanover, PA. “No matter whether you are working in your college field of study or not, it is so important to achieve the goal of attaining a college education,” notes Childers.

Childers remains close with her college roommate, Mary Lynn Yengst ’81. The two worked as aides to Ferrum College President Joseph Hart while they were students. Childers fondly remembers her days as an aide; in one particular instance, the aides had a surprise 50th birthday party for Dr. Hart. Another aide at the time, Sam Oakey ’82, presented Dr. Hart with gifts of Geritol and dentures. “What a fun group we had!” she says. In more recent years, Childers had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Hart at the Beckham Society Luncheon, noting, “He hasn’t changed a bit!”

She believes the same is true of Ferrum College’s basic principles. “I hope Ferrum continues to grow, but keeps its sense of purpose, offering quality education to students who choose to pursue a degree at Ferrum,” she says. The bond between the Childers family and Ferrum College is strong, rooted in what she believes the College has done for her family and its role in their lives today.

“None of this would have been possible without my father,” she stresses. She proudly states that she feels he is the true example of the Ferrum College motto, “Not Self, But Others.” She recalls his service to his church, where he was at one time the longest active member, and to numerous organization boards, many of which were part of the Methodist church. “He has been such a wonderful role model, teaching me so much about life and providing for me a quality education so that I could be successful in my life.” Childers believes in Ferrum College and sees a lasting relationship in the future: “My family will continue the legacy my father began in honor of my mother.”