Cover photo for John A. Jones's Obituary
John A. Jones Profile Photo
1946 John A. Jones 2024

John A. Jones

April 19, 1946 — April 23, 2024

Johnson City

Early on the morning of Tuesday, April 23, 2024. John A. “Johnny” Jones of Johnson City, Tennessee, passed peacefully into eternity.

Johnny - as he was known to his friends and family - was born on April 19, 1946, to the late Carl A. Jones and Kathryn Paxton Jones. He was the husband of the late Janice “Sissy” Winters Jones and the brother of the late Tim P. Jones. Left to lovingly remember Johnny are his daughter, Jacqueline “Jacque” Jones Hawks and husband, Cliff Hawks, of Knoxville; his sister, Alice Torbett, (wife of the late David Torbett) of Knoxville; and his brother, Carleton A. “Cotty” Jones of Johnson City, several much-loved nieces and nephews, and his partner, Michelle Goebel. 

Johnny will also be remembered fondly by his colleagues and the many staff members of the Johnson City Press, who he treated like family. He was often described as “the heart of the newsroom.”

As the son of Johnson City Press-Chronicle’s (Johnson City Press) publisher, Carl A. Jones, Johnny grew up in the newspaper industry, taking on every job from bottom to top. He carried newspapers, worked in the mailroom and answered the newspaper switchboard. As a high school student, he spent summers and weekends working in the photography department and the newsroom.

A 1964 Science Hill graduate, he enrolled in East Tennessee State University with plans to transfer to the University of Missouri School of Journalism in his junior year. However, his plans changed in 1966 when he enlisted in the Tennessee National Guard and also married his high school sweetheart, Janice “Sissy” Winters of Johnson City. 

Unable to transfer his National Guard membership out of state, he decided to forego his enrollment in the University of Missouri. Instead, he completed his military training, began working full-time as a reporter at the Johnson City Press-Chronicle, and returned to ETSU as a communications major. He was one of the first five graduates of the new Communications Department in 1969. In the midst of all this, he and his wife welcomed their only child, Jacque, into the world in 1968.

In 1969, Johnny and his family moved to Nashville, where he spent nearly four years as a political and state government writer for the Nashville Banner. He returned to the Johnson City Press-Chronicle in 1973 as managing editor and was named Editor-In-Chief in 1978, a title he held for 24 years. Johnny was also active in the Tennessee Press Association, serving as a member of the TPA Board of Directors twice, from 1983-85 and again from 2001-2002.

Upon his father's death in 1992, he and his siblings acquired ownership and management of the family-owned newspapers which included the Lebanon Democrat, the Hartsville Vidette, the Covington Leader, the Fayette Falcon, the Jonesborough Herald and Tribune, the Erwin Record and the Tomahawk in Mountain City. In 2002 the family decided to sell their newspapers and Jones exited the newspaper business.

Jones' interest in politics and state government continued throughout his working career. In 1986, he took a six-month leave of absence from the newspaper to serve as Director of Communications in the gubernatorial campaign for Ned McWherter. He was also a member of the "kitchen cabinet" during Governor McWherter's eight years in office.

For many years, Johnny served as both a member and a chairman of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission and
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission. During his term with the Wildlife Resources Commission, he was successful in working with State Senator Rusty Crowe and Representative Ralph Cole to create the Tennessee Watchable Wildlife automobile license tag, which funds virtually all non-game wildlife habitat enhancement programs in Tennessee.  

Johnny was dedicated to his alma mater, East Tennessee State University, serving for several years on the board of the ETSU Alumni Association and as its president from 2000-2002. He was also a driving force for the establishment of the Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University, and was instrumental in developing the concept of ETSU PRIDE Week. In 2006, he was honored as ETSU’s Outstanding Alumnus.

In addition, Johnny was always active in community affairs and was a champion of economic growth in Johnson City.  He served as chairman of the board of Tipton-Haynes Historical Association, the Johnson City Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce. He was the fundraising chairman for the effort to build a new facility for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee and was an active member of the Johnson City Rotary Club.

Johnny also worked diligently to establish the Johnson City Press Christmas Box program which has been ongoing for 43 years. Last year, the program served more than 1,200 families, providing boxes with all the food and ingredients a family needs to prepare a traditional Christmas meal.

He was a staunch supporter of literacy efforts, for both adults and children, throughout the region. The long-running Newspapers in Education program at the Johnson City Press-Chronicle (Press) was his brainchild, which provided “real world” educational experiences for thousands of students from pre-K to adult throughout Northeast Tennessee.

For the last twenty years of his life, Johnny courageously dealt with Stargardt Disease which affected his eyesight. Still, he remained positive and engaged in family and community affairs.

The family of John A. “Johnny” Jones will receive friends from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm Saturday, May 11, 2024, at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church, Johnson City. The Celebration of Life service will immediately follow at 3:00 pm Saturday with Rev. Beth Sullivan officiating. 

After the service, family and friends are invited to a reception in Munsey’s gathering place.  

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter, 3411 N. Roan Street, Johnson City, TN 37601 or wcjcanimalshelter.org.
To order memorial trees in memory of John A. Jones, please visit our tree store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Saturday, May 11, 2024

1:00 - 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church

201 South Roan Street, Johnson City, TN 37601

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Celebration of Life

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Starts at 3:00 pm (Eastern time)

Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church

201 South Roan Street, Johnson City, TN 37601

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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