Funeral services for Jones announced.
Dr. Steven W. Jones, president of Amarillo College since 2003 and formerly of Helena died on Feb. 22, 2009 in Amarillo, Texas. He was 56.
Funeral services will be held 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2009 at First Baptist Church, 13th and Tyler. Dr. Howard Batson will officiate. Interment will be held on Saturday, Feb. 28 in Sunset Memorial Park near Barton.
Steven was born Sept. 28, 1952 in Shreveport, La. to Hollis Ray and Bobbie Gill Jones. It was while attending the University of Mississippi that Steven met the love of his life, Tommye Lou Lambeth. They married on July 26, 1975 and were blessed with two daughters, Holly Rhea Jones in 1979 and Jennifer Ashley Jones in 1982.
Steven, a graduate of the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University, began his professional career as an industrial economist in the agri-chemical industry. However, his passion for scholarly pursuits lured him to higher education and he became a nationally recognized advocate for the community college movement. Before his service at Amarillo College, Steven was vice-chairman of the board of directors of the American Association of Community Colleges, serving as White House liaison from 1992-1994. He also served on the board of the Ford Foundation’s Rural Community College Initiative; the President’s Advisory Board of the Association of Community College Trustees; and he was an adviser to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation for its community college program.
He was named the 12th president of Amarillo College in Amarillo, Texas on Oct. 15, 2003, readily accepting the responsibility to oversee a community college with six campuses and an education outreach center that serve more than 10,000 academic students each semester and about 48,000 continuing education students each year.
Steven was not a reluctant leader, but being in charge was not among his career aspirations. His leadership style progressed naturally, as he once explained that he only saw himself “as a foot soldier in the army of life and a soldier of the cross. I looked up one day and I was at the head of the line with others following behind. I guess that meant I was a leader,” he would laugh.
It was his dynamic brand of leadership that prompted Steven to encourage his staff to be proactive and forward thinking. “Don’t look back ‘cause we ain’t headed that way,” he would often say, paraphrasing one of his favorite Will Rogers’ quotes.
When he was named president of Amarillo College, Steven hit the ground running. He immediately spearheaded the development of a strategic plan, giving the College direction through 2010, a design that included a specific plan for appropriate, long-term technology updates. Most significantly, for both education and the overall community, he championed a $68 million bond election in 2007 that will forever change the face of AC. The bond includes construction of two new buildings and the renovation of existing classroom space that, ultimately, will be a catalyst for the education of thousands of new healthcare professionals in the decades to come.
In recognition of these bold and successful initiatives, the Amarillo College Board of Regents voted in December 2008 to name the soon-to-be-constructed nursing and dental health center on the College’s West Campus in Steven’s honor. Steven also created and implemented a shift in the college’s operating culture. He strongly embraced change and the need for specific programs that most closely match the needs of local business, industry and government. He pushed to increase federal funding to the college by more than 35 percent to support those programs - and a record number of students.
An enthusiastic student himself, Steven was a lifelong learner. He graduated from the Indiana University School of Philanthropy and became a certified fundraising executive, and he earned a doctorate in higher education administration, an M.B.A. in management and economics, and a bachelor’s degree in business. He was a recognized scholar and writer in the nation’s community-college movement with three books to his credit and dozens of articles in professional journals. He has served as a consultant to more than 100 colleges and universities, including the community college systems in North Carolina, Florida, Alabama and the Maine Technical College System.
In 1996 he was named chancellor of the Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas, leaving that post in 2003 to take the reins at Amarillo College. Steven spent more than 40 years in Arkansas, and while he embraced the ideals and community of the Panhandle, considered the state his home.
Always a public and community servant, Steven sat on numerous local boards in Helena and Amarillo, Texas. He served as chairman of the board of both a regional medical center and a rural healthcare foundation. At the time of his death, he was serving on the boards of directors for the Harrington Regional Medical Center, the Amarillo Museum of Art, the United Way of Amarillo & Canyon, the Amarillo Symphony, the Salvation Army, and was past chairman of the Board of Directors of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce. He was a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary International and has been a long-time Gideon as well as a deacon in the Baptist Church.
Though his opinions were honored in the board and conference rooms, Steven was truly connected with the public he served. At Christmas and Thanksgiving, he would take his children to serve holiday meals at local shelters, gave anonymously to individuals in need and could even be found in his own Santa hat, ringing the Salvation Army bell at local stores.
He is preceded in death by paternal grandparents Tommie Watson and Addie B. O’Rear Jones; maternal grandparents Robert L. Gill and Ruby Broussard Gill, all of northern Louisiana; and his father Hollis Ray Jones.
Survivors include his loving wife, Tommye Lou; two daughters, Holly Rhea Jones and Jennifer Ashley Jones, both of Little Rock; and his mother, Bobbie Jones of Amarillo.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Amarillo College Foundation, PO Box 447, Amarillo, Texas 79178; First Baptist Church Master Plan Building Fund, 1206 S. Tyler, Amarillo, Texas 79102; Salvation Army, 400 S. Harrison, Amarillo, Texas 79101 or Olivia’s Angels c/o BSA Hospice, PO Box 950, Amarillo, Texas 79105; Samaritan Pastoral Counseling Center, P.O. Box 9357, Amarillo, Texas 79105, The National Progress, LLC and The PCCUA Foundation in Helena.
Pallbearers will be Bill Simmons, Charlie Gervasini, Bill Spence, Jay Jones, Kirk Whiteside, Steven Murray, James Brasel and James Donaby. Honorary pallbearers will be Walter Morris Sr., Bill Brothers, Bill Brandon, John King, W.A. Rogers and Watson Light.
Services directed by Roller-Citizens Funeral Home, Helena-West Helena, (870) 572-2571. The online guestbook is at www.rollerfuneralhomes.com.
Immediately following graveside services scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 28 at Sunset Memorial Park, the family of the late Dr. Steven Jones will be at the Delta Area Health Education Center (AHEC) at 1393 Hwy. 242 S. in Helena-West Helena to visit with friends and members of the community.