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Long-time Desloge alderman dies

Family and friends, along with many Desloge city residents, are remembering long-time Desloge alderman James R. “Yogi” Jones as a man with a big heart who was never afraid to speak his mind or stand his ground whenever he felt it necessary.

Jones, 64, died Monday at Mercy Hospital Jefferson in Festus.

Born March 9, 1953 in Cantwell, Jones was a 1972 graduate of North County High School and a retired member of Plumbers’ and Pipefitters’ Local 562. He served on the Desloge Board of Aldermen for 17 years, having been re-elected to another two-year term last April.

In previous years Jones was head flagman at the St. Francois County Raceway and a member of the chain gang for the North County Raider Football team from 1994-2006. He was also an active member of the Mineral Area Elks.

Jones is survived by his wife of 44 years, Barbara (Forshee) Jones, three children, five granddaughters, two brothers and three cousins, along with numerous relatives and friends.

Recalling the years of friendship he’d enjoyed with Jones, Desloge Mayor David Kater said, “He’s going to be one who is hard to replace. He was one of a kind, a great guy whose always been there for everybody who ever needed him for anything. He was one of the finest guys I’ve ever known in my lifetime.

“You look at a guy like Yogi who had an open mind. Of course, he didn’t always agree with what we did, but that’s what makes our board work. He brought good information to the table. He brought knowledge to the table.

“He was a long-time Desloge resident. I first knew him as Brian Jones’ dad. I knew him way before he was ever involved in politics. I had a terrible night after hearing the news. You’re thinking, ‘Oh, I’m going to be talking to him next week at the meeting.’ He’ll be sorely missed and I feel so sorry for the family in their loss.”

According to former Desloge mayor and city administrator Greg Camp, Jones was someone you knew would always shoot straight, no matter what the issue.

“Yogi was always there to deliver the unvarnished truth and would do it in the most straight forward way,” he said. “His opinion was direct and honest. You could be sitting and laughing about something — but if it was something that was serious, something that was important — there was never a question about what Yogi thought or what was on his mind.

“He would tell you as direct as any man could. That’s one of the things that I loved about the man. He was at times brutally honest. There’s a lack of people like that in the world today, and unfortunately, we’ve lost one. He was an important part of my process as a mayor and, of course, as an administrator.”

While current Desloge City Administrator Dan Bryan has only been on the job since last summer, as a long-time area resident he had known Jones for years and was sorry to learn of his death.

“I received the news [Monday] night around 7:15 and it was just a real sad time for me,” he said. “I haven’t been here with the city for a long time, however I’ve been in this area and I know these folks. I know Yogi’s family.

“We had a meeting this morning at city hall where we let everyone know. He had worked in the city since 2001 — a lot of years of service to the city. He was a great man. Our hearts go out to his family. We’re thinking about those folks. We just want to be as helpful as we can in this transition time for the Jones family.”

C.Z. Boyer and Son Funeral Home in Desloge is in charge of arrangements.

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Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or kjenkins@dailyjournalonline.com

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