Ray Jones

Interviewed by: Anna Clark
Date of Interview: April 28, 2011
Interview Location: Ray Jone's home

Anna Clark reports:

"Ray Jones is an old friend of my family because he was a former co-worker. He is married with two grown children, as well as five grandchildren. Since he has lived in the Appalachian area for his whole life, Ray seemed like a good person to interview. I have and can still learn a lot from him in many areas. Ray is a vibrant, joyful, and loving man. He is accepting, funny, loving, and has an abundance of knowledge about the Appalachian region and that is why I chose to interview him for this project."

Question: Where were you born and when?

Jones: Knoxville, Tennessee, January 26, 1943.

Question: What was your childhood like?

Jones: Confusing. My dad was in World War II and away the first few years of my life. Mom and I lived with her parents whom I dearly loved. It was hard for me to adjust with dad back home [Interviewer notes: I did not know him] and moving to a different house. I did not want to leave my grandparents and I did not want to share my mother with that stranger!

Question: What were your house/parents like?

Jones: My parents built a new house right after the war, typical ranch style on about two acres. We had room for a garden and a milk cow. My dad entered the Univercity of Tennessee on the GI bill and became an educator. Mom was a housewife. Dad was always strict, hardworking, and expected the same of me. We became very close, especially when I became a young adult. I deeply admire his achievements personally and professionally. My folks were devout church people and very active in the local Baptist Church. Mother devoted her time to preschool work in the church; dad was Sunday School director, deacon, etc.

Question: Did you have any siblings?

Jones: Four young brothers, 5, 10, 12 and 14 years younger than me.

Question: What do you remember most about your childhood?

Jones: I remember weekends with grandma and grandpa Brantley. They ran a general store and I had free run of the stock rooms, etc. I built forts out of store room boxes, ate ice cream sandwiches, and generally made a pig of myself. Then, at night, I got to count all the pennies that the store had taken in that day.

I had a pet goat named Pedro that I raised on a bottle and a burro named Estes that had a harness and cart. Those are good memories. However, I dreaded work in the tobacco fields at Grandpa Jones' place.

Question: Where did you go to high school?

Jones: Halls High School, Knoxville. Tomorrow I am attending my 50th class reunion.

Question: Did you own or get to drive a car? If so, what kind(s)?

Jones: I had a car: a 1931 Ford Model A. Dad helped me put it on the road We bought it out of a barn. I was allowed to drive to high school only if I had to stay late for some reason. Otherwise I rode the bus.

Question: Did you have a job in high school? If so, where?

Jones: The only paying job I ever had during high school was working for some local farmers during hay harvest season.

Question: What was your favorite memory from junior high and high school?

Jones: I loved junior and senior high school. I was usually a class officer, Key club president, high school band (marching and concert). I had good high school friends and felt very accepted and affirmed.

Question: Where did you attend college? Did you enjoy your time there?

Jones: I attended Carson-Newman College. Most of my time there was as a married student so it was not a usual college experience. Carson-Newman faculty and staff were very understanding of my financial and schedule struggle and were very helpful.

Question: Where did you go to seminary? Did you enjoy your time there?

Jones: The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. I loved every minute of it. Made life friends there that still stay in touch.

Question: What was your most memorable moment from college and seminary?

Jones: My most memorable experience at Carson-Newman was to finally graduate, with appreciation for what Carson-Newman had helped me achieve. At SBTS a most memorable time for my family was when we adopted Amy Beth as an infant. The whole SBTS experience was memorable. If I had to single out one instance, I think it would be the change in my outlook and perspective on being a Christian and a minister. I found great joy in my spiritual findings.

Question: Where did you first meet Carolyn?

Jones: Carolyn and I were in high school together. We were acquainted by did not date more than once.

Question: Where was your first date/kiss?

Jones: We started dating after high school. We were together in church activities so much that I am not sure which event counts as the first date! I stole my first kiss on her doorstep after a date.

Question: When did you two get married?

Jones: January 17, 1964.

Question: Where was your first home?

Jones: Briefly in a small house he father owned, but then in a duplex owned by Carson-Newman for married students in Jefferson City, Tennessee.

Question: Why did you decide to move to Wise?

Jones: Because of the opportunity and challenge offered me by Wise Baptist Church.

Question: When did you move to Wise?

Jones: 1981.

Question: What did you think of Wise the first time you visited?

Jones: It was fall of the year and very beautiful. The folks were wonderful.

Question: What was your favorite part of Wise?

Jones: The people who welcomed us to Wise.

Question: When and where was your first child born?

Jones: Knoxville, Tennessee, on November 24, 1964.

Question: What made you decide to adopt your second child (Amy)?

Jones: We were ready to add to our little family, graduation was less than a year away, and we wanted a daughter. Carolyn is diabetic and we were hesitant to try another pregnancy. My NT Professor had just adopted a son and that planted the idea to contact Kentucky Baptist Children's Home to see if we stood a chance at getting a child.

Question: What was your favorite part of the adoption?

Jones: The opportunity to take as our own a beautiful baby girl and to help Dwight (age 5) get ready for his new sister. He was eager to meet her! Our seminary friends were wise enough to bring Dwight gifts as well as the new baby - he never felt left out.

Question: Where were you living when you adopted her?

Jones: Seminary Village (student housing), Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY.

Question: What was the most memorable moment of raising your children?

Jones: I enjoyed parenting. It meant a lot to me when each child became a Christian and I got to baptize them.

Question: Where was your first job at a church?

Jones: My first real church task was as a seminary student pastor at Pond Run Baptist Church (organized in 1820) in Echols, Ky. We commuted there each weekend. I was their pastor for three years. I loved them, they love me, and they taught me a lot!

Question: What was your favorite church you’ve worked at? Why?

Jones: I only served three churches after graduation, in South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Each are special to me. I have most affection for Wise Baptist. I think they needed me when I came to be pastor and I needed their affirmation. Wise Baptist Church is a good and unique place. An important factor in my feeling for Wise is Leigh and the way she strengthened the work here. She helped me accomplish a lot of ministry tasks. And, the congregation allowed me freedom to minister as I understood best. Good people.

Question: What is the best part of your retirement?

Jones: Freedom of schedule and the opportunity to continue ministry in different settings and formats. And, time to read and time with Carolyn.

Question: Do you enjoy living in the Appalachian area?

Jones: I do.

Question: Why or why not?

Jones: I like the mountains and most of all I like the people.