Thomas James Jones
December 26, 1943 – May 29, 2021
Tom Jones (77) died at 9:15pm on Saturday, May 29, 2021, of diastolic heart failure with his wife Trish (Dunn) by his side, along with her niece Amanda Houston and grand nephews Braden and Camden Fisco, who had come to say their goodbyes. Tom was the first of 6 children born to Lillian (Karjala) and Loyal F. Jones, who raised their family on a farm in Park Rapids, Minnesota, where Tom’s father and mother owned the Jones Feed & Implement Store.
Tom is predeceased by his father and mother and many aunts and uncles. He is survived by his wife of 51 years (Trish), his sisters, Beverly (Jim) Payne of Banner Elk, NC; Barbara (Gary) Miles of Bigfork, MN; Nancy (Greg) Gwaltney of Dahlonega, GA; his brothers William Jones (Ann Kay) of Minnetonka, MN; and Steven (Belinda) Jones of Arden Hills, MN; many nieces, nephews, grands and cousins; and by long-time friends including Isamu “Frank” Ueda of Japan, who was the first AFS exchange student at the Park Rapids Area High School and lived with the Jones family during the ’56-’57 school year. Tom and Trish’s children were all the 4-legged variety, their beloved dogs and cats.
Tom graduated from Park Rapids High School in ’62 and studied at the University of Minnesota at Duluth until serving stateside in the Army National Guard during the Viet Nam War from the late ‘60’s to the early 70’s.
In his youth, one of Tom’s and sister Bev’s chores was to milk the cows twice a day and feed the pigs, even in the -40 degree temps of Minnesota winters. When the chores were done, Tom was an avid skier, sailor, and deer hunter and he loved fishing on the Minnesota lakes. He followed college, professional and Olympic sports, and his allegiance to the Minnesota Vikings and Twins never faltered. He was an accomplished horseman, and supported horse rescue efforts throughout his life. Following in his father’s footsteps, Tom became a supportive member of the Park Rapids Masonic Shell Lodge #184 for over 50 years and he earned his 32nd degree, becoming a Shriner while in the San Francisco Bay Area. His father taught him how to play tennis, and Tom returned the favor by teaching his father to ski. Tom’s skiing prowess was legendary. Whether on the slopes at Val Chatel, Minnesota, where he and Trish first met, at Mont du Lac Ski School in Wisconsin, where he taught skiing, or on the mountains of Montana and New Hampshire, watching Tom ski was like watching poetry in motion.
Tom began his 3+ decade career with 3M when he was a college student and worked as a summer fishing guide and canoe guide, and led trail rides at Wonewok Conference Center on Big Mantrap Lake. This led to his first full-time job working the desk at 3M headquarters in St Paul before becoming a sales rep for the Automotive Trades Division with a transfer to Rhode Island. He and Trish were avid sailors on Narragansett Bay and, for a couple of years, Tom raced with a crew on a 40’ yacht. During the Bicentennial, Tom and Trish were transferred back to St. Paul from where he traveled the country marketing 3M Automotive products. In ’80 Tom was promoted to the San Francisco Area Manager’s position where he spent the next 20 years managing sales reps covering the territory spanning the West from Canada to Mexico and east to Salt Lake City. His reps respected Tom, whom they called “chief”, and admired him for so many reasons, but especially his gift of teaching life’s lessons and in relating to people from all walks of life – traits Tom said he learned from his parents. In 2000 Tom retired from 3M Company and he and Trish moved to Eugene, Oregon.
There were many chapters in Tom’s life. He had an enduring curiosity about the world and was incredibly well read. For a few years he enjoyed fishing the lakes and streams of the Cascade Mountains and crabbing off the Oregon coast with his long-time friend and 3M rep John Toensing. When an injury restricted Tom’s mobility, he spent time learning the art of wood carving and engraving from Dr. Lew Jensen, and Keith and Craig Hone, master craftsmen at the Hone Studios in Utah. The diamond willow walking sticks, canes, gun stocks and engravings Tom carved are works of art that he gave to family and friends. In more recent years he faced a number of health struggles, each of which he met with pragmatism and good humor. He was a survivor of bladder cancer.
Tom’s was a life well lived. He was known and respected for his practical wisdom, his honesty, and his generosity. He was loved and will be remembered as a decent and honorable man with great integrity and humor. Hail and farewell Tom Jones. Those of us fortunate to call you “friend” are left poorer by your death, but richer by your life.
Special thanks to the team of incredible nurses and staff at Peace Health Hospice of Sacred Heart for their compassionate care and kindness during these past four months, as well as the other excellent caregivers who were so helpful during this time. Appreciation to Andreason’s Cremation and Burial Service for handling the final arrangements. Honoring Tom’s wishes, there will be no services. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a contribution in Tom’s name to Peace Health Hospice of Sacred Heart in Eugene, Oregon.