Obituary For Walter Jones
Walter Jones passed away on December 29, 2020, at the age of 75. Beloved husband of Sarah Beaman-Jones, our dear father and grandfather.
Walter was preceded in death by his parents, Geneva Jones (nee Lovings) and Walter Jones Sr., and two of his sisters, Ella Louise Binion and Virginia Stegall. He is survived by his wife, Sarah Beaman-Jones, his children, Jennifer Jones and Jeremy Jones (Jeanne), his grandchildren Devin, Lawrence, Campbell, and Norah, one great-grandson, Joshua, and his sisters Cora Mae Hicks and Johnell Nash.
Walter grew up in North St. Louis as the youngest and only boy in his family. He had many wonderful memories of his childhood and youth as a cherished member of his large extended family. Walter attended Vashon high school, graduated in 1963, and headed off to enjoy several years of learning and playing football at Alcorn State University. Walter met his future wife when they were both working at Edgewood Children's Home (now GreatCircle) in Webster Groves, and the connection they formed blossomed into a lifelong love affair. The couple married in a small ceremony and spent 52 years together.
Walter and Sarah moved to Lafayette square in 1971 and soon found the house they would rehab together for the next 48 years, restoring the house, built in 1891, which had been badly burned and condemned into a treasured family home. They raised their two children in the Lafayette Square neighborhood which became their extended family. Block parties, concerts in the park, shared childcare, and adventures in rehabbing old homes created a rich and welcoming community that Walter and Sarah flourished within.
Walter loved spending time with his family, and often remarked on how he could not have imagined a more wonderful life for himself. He was known as one of the friendliest, kindest men you could ever meet. Walter was patient and warm, with a gentle smile. He took the time to really listen to people, both in his long career as a housing specialist and with his family and friends. He did more listening than giving advice, but one piece of advice he will be remembered for is that a man should always carry a belt, a handkerchief, a pen, and a pocket knife. Walter was a well-known weekly shopper at Soulard, enjoyed working out at the Y, and spent many a weekend shopping at various hardware and thrift stores, often ending with a trip to Crown Candy Kitchen. He would describe himself as a "short-order cook" with a few specialties, including his fried chicken, taco shells from scratch, and ribs covered in his famous homemade barbecue sauce. He and Sarah traded nights of cooking, but reserved Fridays for date night, often trying new restaurants together. Saturday or Sunday were for family dinners with his kids and grandkids and warm Thursday afternoons were reserved for gin and tonics in the backyard with his wife. Known as Bop Bop to his grandchildren, Walter's Saturday morning bacon and egg breakfasts and cartoon watching, a tradition he started with his children and continued with his grandchildren, will never be forgotten.
On Tuesday, February 5th, Walter was buried in a green burial in the meadow in Bellefontaine Cemetery. A small family services was held, during which the gathered sang Will the Circle Be Unbroken and his wife shared these words:
I read these words as a teenager and believed them to be true. After 52 years with Walter, I know them to be true:
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
So faith, hope, love, abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
One of the biggest traditions in Walter's life was the annual Christmas Eve party hosted in his home beginning sometime in the 1970s. Family and friends gathered to share good food and drink, exchange small gifts, sing carols, and enjoy the warmth of community. For the last 15+ years, instead of exchanging gifts, the gathered brought items to auction, donating the money raised to various charities. Following in this tradition, in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Kiva in honor of Walter Jones.
Words offered by Mr. Jerred Metz, dear friend of Walter Jones:
Those of us who had Walter in our lives were exceptionally fortunate. Whether wife, children, grandchildren, relatives, colleagues, friends, or acquaintances, we had a person who enlightened our lives. The stories of his childhood and growing up always brightened his voice as he told of those days and times. His meeting and courtship of Sarah is a tale of love and affection that blossomed and gave them happy lives through the decades. His loving care of his children and their love of him into adulthood expressed high mutual regard. One of his delights was having Jennifer and Lawrence on the third floor for many years. He was proud of his children’s accomplishments, the relationships they formed – Jeanne with Jeremy and Doug with Jennifer. He told tales of the pleasure he had with Norah, Campbell, and Lawrence.
The routine of his life was filled with simple pleasures that were also the necessities of life—Saturday mornings at Soulard Market, ice cream from Crown, trips to the hardware store. The larger cycle of the year had at its center the Jones’ Christmas eve party. Buying and wrapping presents, the fireplace fire, turkeys and hams, the beautifully laid table, the myriad of friends and family over the decades, later Jennifer’s auction, then, late at night, Walter finishing cleaning the kitchen and wrapping the last presents.
Walter loved good coffee, even late at night. He loved staying up late, watching old science fiction movies and every version of Star Trek, reading, and working on the house.
He treated the people who he served in his work honorably, respectfully. They enjoyed his friendly ways—the elderly whose homes he improved, the contractors who did the work.
His colleagues esteemed him highly, delighted in his company.
The faces of the folks he dealt with at Soulard turned to smiles and their voices to happy conversation when Walter came to their stalls—the meat and chicken ladies, Joan, the vegetable lady, the watermelon man. Walter gave them more than money when he bought their goods.
The great work in Walter’s life was the house in Lafayette Square. The story of how it came into Sarah and Walter’s life is well known. Walter’s art in scavenging in the early days and skill in all the crafts of home repair, developed into the work of a true artisan. It has, for decades, been a place of warmth and comfort. The third floor was home to several fine tenants before Jennifer and Lawrence made it their home. When they moved to Jennifer’s lovely home, it became the home away from home during the twice-yearly visits that Sarah Barker and I made, sometimes along with Ravenna and her family. Outside, Sarah did the same with the yard, turning it from a car mechanic’s wasteland into a garden treasured for its variety and beauty.
A great companion, I will remember him with love. I value the many hours of conversation we spent. During our many visits to the Jones home over the twenty-one years since we left, Walter and I often stayed up after the others had gone to bed to visit, a glass of bourbon or rum cooled by his famous ice chunks, and talked. In the backyard in summer, in front of a fire in winter. We talked about our families most of all, our childhoods and the years after, St. Louis, politics, work. I am sure all of us had similar experiences with him, all to be recalled fondly. His kindness to all, his friendly way, and his thoughtful words are a gift to be cherished by all who knew him.
Now, go forth, good friend, to whatever lays beyond.
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I remember meeting Walter (and Sarah) some years back over dinner while visiting our mutual friend, Sheryl. We had a lovely time sharing food, ideas and stories that, as with the best of any good meal, resonate for a time afterwards. It was clear that Walter was a person for whom shared conversation had real meaning, something to dig your teeth into and chew on for a while. It was also evident that a good conversation was how he, in part, gauged a person. If you had something interesting to say, he was all ears. This particular meal not only helped me get to know Walter but to better understand Sheryl's strong affection for both Sarah and Walter. Good people are worth more than gold. Walter will surely be missed. My deepest sympathies to his family and close companions.
Words cannot encapsulate the feelings I had after hearing of Walter's passing. He was like my work-father in the office that we worked for almost a decade together (I was playfully jealous of Jennifer & Jeremy). I have never met a more positive person regardless of what he was going through or experiencing. Walter was a TV fanatic like myself and would stay up late watching shows despite having to go to work in the morning. He said when he was dragging in the morning his wife would say and don't feel sorry for you either, you did it to your own self! He shared so many stories about his life and I learned so much knowledge as a result. He had such a beautiful soul and Dennis is accurate when he said if we had more Walter Jones in this world this would be such a beautiful place to reside. Recently my friend since high school was diagnosed with cancer and I told her of the positive spirit Walter had during his bouts and how that should carry her through as well. When I heard that he passed I wouldn't even tell her about that. The message remains the same regardless. I know we all have to leave this earth as we know it at some point but some people we are truly at a loss because of their transition. I can't imagine ever forgetting what this man has taught me or his stories. God blessed us with his presence and his family is extremely blessed to have had him as their own.
I had the pleasure of working with Walter Jones before he retired from St. Louis County, Home Improvement Program. I was his supervisor for a few decades, but more than a staff member, we were friends. We worked together in the the same offices as we moved around, until finally a staffing switch had me working in South County and Walter in Clayton. I was still the program supervisor and would visit Walter once a week, and we always made time to talk. He always greeted me with that warm smile and a fist bump. Perhaps a cup of coffee. As stated in his obituary, Walter was all about family and so was I. We always spoke of our kids. He had a daughter Jennifer, and I had a daughter Jennifer about ten years younger. He had a son Jeremy and I had Nick. He also talked about his wife Sarah, who he loved deeply. I know all about Walter's early life, family history, family traditions, Lafayette square home, and regular routines. His family would be surprised how much I know about all of them, their kids, Devin, Lawrence Campbell and Norah. We had so many years to talk. He was proud of his family, and when Lawrence came around, I practically watched him grow up. Walter would show me pictures and proudly tell me his accomplishments as he grew up to be a big man! We covered his work as Walter battled cancer, including some very serious surgeries. He always kept a positive attitude and accepted the curve balls life threw at him. Walter served as an example for me. He would truly listen, and offer advice when asked. I admired his dedication to family, his knowledge, his work ethic, and his happy optimistic approach to life. He kept in shape, and although he was a gentle soul, he also was a "man's man." We were sad to see him retire but we all knew that day would come. His advice to me when I retired was to not be one of those guys who laid on the couch in sweatpants, watching television all day. It's hard but I am sticking to his advice. The world would be a much better place if we had more people like Walter Jones. Walter had a life well lived, and may he rest in peace. -Dennis M. Kajszo
Walter was one of the most pleasant people to talk to at work Before his retirement. I always enjoyed chatting with him. He will be missed.
I remember Mr. Jones during his time as a St. Louis Police Officer walking a Downtown footbeat in the '70's. As a young officer at the time, I recall Walter as being a great guy and greater officer. Many of us were puzzled about his resignation to take the risk of rehabbing homes in Lafayette Square. He made the right choice and is fondly remembered by his former colleagues. May he rest in peace.
Walter & Sarah welcomed Matt and myself - complete strangers to them - into their home for one of their legendary Christmas parties on a sub-zero St. Louis night many years ago. They invited me to make myself at home in their kitchen as I baked my contribution to the meal, to play the piano and sing along with all these folks who'd celebrated together for literally generations. I have never forgotten Walter's kindness, his welcoming spirit: he and Sarah were and are angels to us. So sorry that all his family is grieving, but so grateful we got to experience his amazing presence for a night.
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