Jim Stone’s entire life was a ‘successful mission’Published 7:58am Friday, June 8, 2012
A native of Virginia, Jim Stone first came to Bainbridge in 1943 to learn to fly, and he never stopped soaring thereafter. He soared above the fields of Georgia and Florida, the flak-filled skies over Ploesti, a POW camp in Romania, and the University of Georgia after the war. Along the way he met and married the former Mary Bower, daughter of a venerable Decatur County family — and, early in his postwar career, he chose to make Bainbridge his home.
“I wasn’t born here,” he was fond of saying, “but I got here as fast as I could.” He did, and he got right down to making up for lost time, building a family, making a home, creating a successful business and working to improve this community and the lives of those around him.
With his partner, the late Charles Kirbo, he created Stone’s, Inc., in 1959 and opened the first of what would become a chain of nine retail hardware and building supply stores in south Georgia and north Florida.
But Jim Stone’s most successful enterprises were not about business. They were about people and the organizations and institutions that serve them. The Decatur Seminole Training Center, United Way, Bainbridge College Foundation, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, Bainbridge Mental Health Association, S. Marvin Griffin Memorial Educational Foundation, Southwest Georgia Health Systems Agency, Judicial Selection Commission of Georgia, Bainbridge Retarded Children’s Association, and the Governor’s Southwest Georgia Regional Mental Health and Mental Retardation Advisory Council are just a few among many organizations that have benefitted from Jim Stone’s initiative, leadership and dedication, as have the people they have served.
Jim Stone was a “people person” all the way. He recognized the value of individuals — as well as their needs — and displayed his wisdom by staffing his central warehouse office for several years with a delightful collection of talented and experienced retirees who dubbed themselves “The Pear Orchard Gang.” He was an accomplished horseman and a devout fly fisherman, and though the latter brought him into contact with many notables who also enjoyed the art, none would displace his long-standing camaraderie with the late Rowland Bolton.
On Thursday, June 8, 2012, Jim Stone’s wonderful flight ended. He brought his ship in for a final landing, just as he did with his failing B-17 in that Romanian wheat field on a summer’s day nearly 70 years ago. It was, as were most of his adventures, a very successful flight. His logbook of life is filled with his impact on his community, his family and his fellow men.
Now he joins his beloved Mary, who preceded him in death on Oct. 23, 2011, and his many, many friends and comrades who had gone on before.
We join his family and all who knew him in celebrating his life, and mourning his passing.
Sam Griffin Jr. was the publisher of The Post-Searchlight from 1972 through 2008.
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