Delwin Jones

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Delwin Leoland Jones

Texas State Representative
from Lubbock
In office
1964–1972
Preceded by J. Collier Adams
Succeeded by James Earl "Pete" Laney

Texas State Representative for
District 83 (Cochran, Gaines, Hockley, Lubbock, and Yoakum counties)
In office
1989–2011
Preceded by Ron Givens
Succeeded by Charles Lee Perry

Born April 2, 1924
Lubbock, Texas
Died July 25, 2018 (aged 94)
Lubbock, Texas
Resting place Texas State Cemetery in Austin
Nationality American
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican
Spouse(s) Reta A. Womack Jones (married 1946-2014, her death)
Children Lanny Tyler Jones

Melodie Jones Snodgrass
Two grandsons

Alma mater Texas Tech University
Occupation Businessman

Farmer
United States Army Air Corps in World War II

Religion United Methodist

Delwin Leoland Jones (April 2, 1924[1] – July 25, 2018)[2] was an American politician, who, prior to 2011, was the oldest sitting member of the Texas House of Representatives,[3] having represented what became and what remains District 83 based in the area about his native Lubbock. Jones was originally elected as a Democrat in 1964, when that party held 149 of the 150 seats in the Texas House. Jones was defeated for re-nomination in 1972 by cotton farmer James Earl "Pete" Laney (born March 20, 1943) of Hale Center, later the state House Speaker. Jones returned to the House in 1989 as a Republican midway into the second nonconsecutive administration of Governor Bill Clements. In addition to Clements, Jones served under five other governors, John Connally, Preston Smith, Ann Richards, George W. Bush, and Rick Perry.

Background

A Lubbock resident, Jones was a son of R. E. Jones, Sr., and the former Cordelia Booth. He graduated from Lubbock High School and in 1949 received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas Tech University in Lubbock.[2] He earned his living from farming and investments. After completing service in the United States Army Air Corps in World War II, Jones wed the former Reta A. Womack (July 16, 1923 – March 20, 2014),[4] a native of Martha in Jackson County in southwestern Oklahoma. The two met in Lubbock's only bowling alley at the time. Mrs. Jones was heavily committed to Habitat for Humanity in Lubbock.[5]

The Joneses had two children, Lanny Tyler Jones of Seal Beach, California, and Melodie Aloyce Jones Snodgrass (born October 12, 1952) and husband, Harry Edward Snodgrass (born November 15, 1952) of Houston.[2]

Political life

Jones's District 83 also included the outlying communities of Levelland, Denver City, Plains, Shallowater, Slaton, and Seminole. Jones drove through the district over the years with a 1995 Buick Le Sabre, passing out probably 800,000 "Delwin Jones" emery boards to remind voters of pending elections. He started each day politicking in some café, often in rural areas.[3]

At the age of eighty-six, Jones was a candidate for renomination in the April 13, 2010, Republican runoff primary. He was unseated by Charles Lee Perry, an accountant who ran a grass roots campaign with support of the Tea Party movement. Perry prevailed, 10,109 votes (57.8 percent) to Jones' 7,392 ballots (42.2 percent). Jones polled 291 more votes in the runoff than he had in the primary, but Perry's total increased by 3,633 ballots over his initial showing.[6]

In the primary on March 2, 2010, Jones, backed by the president of the Lubbock Educators Association interest group,[7] led the field with 7,103 ballots (37.7 percent) to Perry's 6,476 (34.4 percent). The third candidate, Zach Brady, with 5,240 votes (27.8 percent), held the key to victory in the Jones-Perry showdown.[8] Brady, a Lubbock attorney, raised more than $250,000 and carried the backing of business interest groups, but he was eliminated from the race by his third-place showing.[7]

Jones had expected to win another term in the legislature on the basis of name identification and longevity, but he conceded an "undercurrent" of disgruntled taxpayers made the outcome of the race uncertain.[3] Charles Perry then ran unopposed for the House seat in the general election held on November 2, 2010, as no Democrat filed for the position.

In the Republican primary held on May 29, 2012, Jones, at the age of eighty-eight, failed in a bid to unseat Perry's successful bid for a second term n the House. In 2014, Jones entered the special election to fill the District 28 seat in the Texas State Senate vacated by Moderate Republican Robert Lloyd Duncan, who became chancellor of the Texas Tech University System. In this race, he again faced Charles Perry as well as several other candidates, including two other Republicans, E. M. Garza and later U.S. Representative Jodey Arrington of Texas's 19th congressional district, and a Democrat, Greg Wortham. On August 31, 2014, ten days before the special election, Jones was listed in critical condition from an undisclosed illness and was admitted to Covenant Medical Center in Lubbock.[4] Jones, with voters concerned about the status of his health and age, polled less than 2 percent of the vote. Perry won the election without the need for a runoff and thereby gained seniority over other new state senators who were elected on November 4. Jones, meanwhile, survived his illness, and lived another four years.

In his lengthy career, Jones wrote the legislation that created the Buffalo Lakes Water District, the University Medical Center (a teaching hospital), the Texas Tech Medical School, the Criminal District Attorney's Office for Lubbock County, the 137th District Court in Lubbock County, and the Seed Breeders Rights legislation that gave patent-type protection for seed developers. He authored the legislation that sets the legal standards for eggs and fruit sold in the state. He sponsored the law which requires that garbage be sterilized or heat-treated before it is fed to farm animals. He authored a state constitutional amendment to prevent excess tax increases on agricultural land. He was the author of the Texas Disabilities Act that requires all public buildings in Texas be accessible for the physically handicapped. He was designated "Farmer of the Year in Texas". He authored the bill that changed the name of Texas Technological College to Texas Tech University, effective September 1969.[2]

Jones sponsored the funding to construct the Lubbock State School, the Texas Tech Law School, the Texas Tech Museum, the Texas Tech Swine Research Center, and the Texas Tech Cotton, Wool, and Mohair Research Center. He was a charter member of the High Plains Underground Water District, the Plains Cotton Growers Association, and the Caprock American Business Club. He was a president of the Lubbock County Farm Bureau.[2]

In 2015, Jones received from the Lubbock chapter of the Association for Women n Communications the "George Mahon Award", named for Democratic former U.S. Representative George Herman Mahon (1900-1985) of Lubbock.[9]

Death and legacy

Jones died in Lubbock at the age of ninety-four. After a memorial service on July 28 at the Oakwood United Methodist Church at 2215 58th Street in Lubbock, he will be interred along with his wife at the Texas State Cemetery in the capital city of Austin.[10] In his service, Methodist Bishop James Gregg "Jimmy" Nunn (born December 5, 1956), recalled Jones' emery boards in red, white, and blue colors, a basket of which was placed in the church for the service. Nunn said that Jones once told him the boards were used to publicize his candidacy but were also items that people needed. Nunn cited Jones for his advocacy of family values; he noted that the lawmaker worked to place inmates at state facilities near their homes to make it easier for relatives to visit them. He was often back at home on weekends during legislative sessions.[11]

Robert Duncan, a former state representative and senator and the departing chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, attended the memorial service. Duncan described Jones as "always involved in different types of activities, as a volunteer at the Lions Club, and ... active in the Republican Party, helping the new candidates learn the ropes and understand how to get elected.”[9] Others in attendance were Jones' former election rival, Senator Charles Lee Perry, and former Lubbock Mayors Windy Maryann Sitton and Alan Henry.[11]

References

  1. Delwin Jones. Mylife.com. Retrieved on July 27, 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Delwin L. Jones obituary. Lubbock Avalanche Journal (July 27, 2018).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "Solons feeling the heat", Laredo Morning Times, April 12, 2010, p. 6A.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Sarah Rafique (August 31, 2014). SD 28 candidate Delwin Jones in critical condition: Jones served for 30 years in the Texas House of Representatives during two stints. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on September 1, 2014.
  5. R. S. Douglas (March 22, 2014). Reta Jones, wife of former Tex Rep. Delwin, remembered for kindness, Habitat work: Donations to Habitat for Humanity are requested in lieu of flowers. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on September 1, 2014.
  6. Texas Republican runoff primary returns. Texas Secretary of State (April 13, 2010). Retrieved on July 25, 2010.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Election 2010", Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, accessed March 6, 2010.
  8. Texas Republican primary election returns. Texas Secretary of State (March 2, 2010). Retrieved on July 25, 2018.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Longtime Texas legislator Delwin Jones of Lubbock dies at 94. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (July 25, 2018).
  10. Delwin L. Jones. cemetery.state.tx.us. Retrieved on January 5, 2016.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Gabriel Monte (July 29, 2018). Delwin Jones remembered for service, love of family. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.