Ralph (Willie) Jones, Jr. of Rolla, KS, was born on August 27, 1952 in Keota, OK, a fact that he denied to most people if asked…”why no he wasn’t an Okie”! He was born to Ralph & Marie Jones. Willie was not the baby of the family, but he was the only brother to three sisters.
Willie grew up in Sidney, NE making some great memories with some of his best friends that he loved to reminisce about. Plenty of mischief shared and stories always involving what vehicles were driven and how FAST they could go! Willie loved cars, motorcycles, pickups and even semis! If it had an engine he enjoyed using it and learning how to take care of it and make it better every day. He enjoyed, even in his last moments, maintaining his own vehicles – his children found his beloved Dodge pickup in mid oil change. This was no doubt a task he left for himself to continue the next day. He liked to stay busy.
Willie was drafted into service with the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam war. It was an experience that would affect his entire life. He was proud to have served, but was an advocate until the day he died, for better treatment for Veterans. He made it one of his missions to speak out to congressmen and the VA Medical Centers to give better benefits and treat them better – mentally, physically, with less hoops and red tape to work through.
Willie loved GUNS!!! Anybody who knew him was aware of this fact. He always had a new treasure to show his kids and friends. He never went anywhere without a firearm. He enjoyed sharing his love of weaponry with his kids and grandkids – teaching them gun safety and the proper way to hold a gun and shoot it, all at an early age. If you ever borrowed one of his vehicles, you always needed to do an inspection to be sure he didn’t leave one in the console, the trunk, the door or the pockets of a jacket he may have left behind. He loved to work on them, build them and share them.
Willie liked to travel, especially taking road trips. He would take the LONG WAY everywhere. He loved the back roads, side roads, dirt roads. He loved to stop at Historical Monuments and Museums everywhere he went and he was diligent about sending photos to his kids at each stop. He was always on the lookout for something he thought they’d enjoy, turtles for Heather, cool trucks for Jed, Mustangs for everyone!
Willie worked in the oil patch when he was younger and always enjoyed reminiscing about those days, but when the boom fell in the mid 80’s, he decided to go to school at Seward County to get his certification in Respiratory Therapy. He worked in healthcare as a Respiratory Therapist and he was very good at it. He enjoyed doing the job well, but he also was more than happy to move on to being a truck driver. He loved having his CDL and being able to maneuver those huge trucks into tight places and it gave him the chance to take a road trip every day. He continued this love of truck driving into his retirement, helping out with harvest for Steve Munson and he looked forward to each season.
Willie married Donna Grubbs in Hugoton, KS at the First Christian Church on June 7, 1975. They were married for 21 years before cancer took her too soon from this world. They had two children, Heather Marie of Perryton, Texas and Jedidiah Dean of Clearwater, Kansas. They both survive him today. Willie loved to surprise his kids and community members with gifts of gratitude for their kindness, helpfulness or service. He was a great patron of the Wagon Wheel Café in Ulysses, always sharing the cinnamon rolls and pies with those he thought needed a sweet treat.
Willie loved to help people and his children. He was drawn to those suffering with cancer since he had been there and done that with his wife. He was a very generous person. He had a knack for seeing a need and trying to help with it. He also made it a point to give compliments, atta-boys or tell a joke wherever he was. “You have a lovely day” was one of his favorite good-byes.
He enjoyed attending football games and wrestling matches to watch Kolten and Brantley and he made the effort to attend dance recitals, track meets, band concerts and plays to watch Jessika and Zak. His grandchildren made him proud.
Willie enjoyed studying the Bible and its verses; there is no doubt he was welcomed into Heaven on November 30, 2021. He passed away doing one of the other things he loved – watching documentaries with his new best friend Kelbi, his service dog from America’s VetDogs. He was preceded in death by both his parents, his wife Donna, one treasured nephew Joseph and two brothers-in-law George and Jim. He is survived by his children Heather Dumcum and husband Chris and Jed Jones and wife Afton along with his grandchildren – Jessika, Zak, Kolten and Brantley, Melanie and Aly, three sisters – Joetta Jordan, Jeannie McAlpin and husband Bob, Charlesa Isaacs and husband Eldon, Donna’s sisters – Linda Young, Pam Lewis, Debbie Arnold and many nieces, nephews and friends. A memorial to commemorate Willie’s life will be held at the Robson Funeral Home in Hugoton, KS on Friday, December 17th at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to America’s VetDogs.