Friends and family members will gather Saturday to remember Dr. Bobby Jones, a prominent Fort Worth veterinarian and epidemiologist whose family helped found modern-day Southlake.
Jones, who also was an orchestra enthusiast who played oboe and French horn, died Dec. 27 of complications from a recent injury. He was 81 years old.
A memorial service will be 1 p.m. Saturday at J.E. Foust & Son Funeral Directors, 523 S. Main St. in Grapevine.
The Jones family played a large role in African-American history in Tarrant and Denton counties.
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Jones’ grandfather and namesake, Bob Jones, was a pioneering rancher in the mid-1800s who had been born a slave. Using his business savvy after the Civil War, he amassed about 1,000 acres of ranch land in the rural Roanoke area. That area later became part of Southlake.
Bob Jones Park and Bob Jones Nature Center were built on some of that property and were named in his memory.
Bobby Jones enjoyed telling his family’s history during public gatherings at the nature center.
“If anyone in the family had a legacy and historical knowledge, it was my dad,” daughter Meredith Garrison of Plano said in a phone interview. “He loved sharing that.”
Jones also had a passion for music and for the performing arts, she said. He played in numerous community symphony orchestras in Texas and Pennsylvania, and frequently attended ballets and other performances at Bass Hall in downtown Fort Worth.
Dollie Gentry, a retired registered nurse, played in the band with Jones at I.M. Terrell High School in Fort Worth, which during segregation was the place where African-Americans from throughout the region attended classes.
“He was just a good, fun-loving kid,” Gentry said in a phone interview.
Gentry also fondly remembered taking trips to the Jones’ farm each year for events that would draw large crowds.
“The Jones family had a picnic every year,” she said. “We drove out to Roanoke. It was the best time we ever had. There was nothing out there but the Jones place and surrounding forest.”
Jones was born Oct. 7, 1937, in Denton, according to his online obituary.
He was a veterinarian before joining the Air Force, where he served for more than 20 years, his daughter said. He then had a long career as an epidemiologist in Pennsylvania and Texas, including work at Tarrant County Public Health.
He was chief epidemiologist at Tarrant County Public Health from 1995-2005, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine from Kansas State University, and a master’s degree in epidemiology from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, according to his biography.
Following the memorial service, interment will be at Medlin Cemetery in Trophy Club, with full Air Force honors.
Other survivors include: brother William LaRue; daughters McKenzie Jones, Donna Pockrus, Kimberly Plank and Heather Plank; sons Ricky Jones, Roy Belanger and Gary Jones; and many grandchildren and other relatives.
The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Bob Jones Nature Center.