Published 4:07 pm Wednesday, October 25, 2023
It is with a heavy heart that the family of Joe “Dudley” Jones announces his passing at the age of 80. Dudley passed peacefully on October 14th, 2023, at the Community Hospice/Baptist Medical Center South in Jacksonville, Florida with family by his side. A celebration of life will be held at a later date in a private service.
Dudley was born on August 16, 1943, in Woodbury, Tennessee to Laymon Ernest “Ernie” and Nellie Underhill Jones. He grew up in McMinnville, Tennessee, graduating from McMinnville City High School in 1961. Dudley left McMinnville to attended Bethel University in McKenzie, Tennessee. He took a break from his studies and enlisted in the United States Navy in 1966 where he proudly served as an Instructor at the Gun Fire Support School in Little Creek, Virginia and was a Communications Specialist while on the USS Forrestal Aircraft Carrier. He was honorably discharged in 1970 and returned to Tennessee where he earned his Bachelor degree from Bethel University. Dudley continued his professional career which included working at Emerson Electric in Paris, Tennessee, Avco Electronics Company in Huntsville, Alabama, Hubble Lighting in Martin, Tennessee and American Electric/Thomas & Betts in Bainbridge, Georgia, where he became Plant Manager. After retiring from Thomas & Betts, Dudley became the co-owner, along with his best friend, Donald Brady, of Encore Group, Inc as Vice President of Manufacturing Sales, covering the states of Florida and Georgia.
While living and working in Martin, TN, Dudley met and married Sheryl Wheeler Jones and enjoyed over 35 years of marriage. They moved to Bainbridge Georgia in 1989, where they resided until 2004. The couple fulfilled their life long dream of living in Florida when they moved to Jacksonville Beach.
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Dudley loved traveling. He enjoyed touring various countries in the Mediterranean while serving in the Navy, traveling with his wife to New England, San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas, Texas, the North Carolina Mountains, and watching Tennessee Volunteer football at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville. His favorite trips were with his family to Destin and Panama City Beach, FL. Dudley loved to play golf and was a prior member of the Carroll County Country Club in McKenzie, TN, Huntsville Country Club in Huntsville, AL, Weakley County Country Club in Sharon, TN and Bainbridge Country Club in Bainbridge, GA. He was proud to tell people that he once played in the Pro-Am St. Jude Golf Classic in Memphis, Tennessee. Dudley’s other passions and hobbies included being an avid reader, collecting the top 100 classic books, studying history and politics, playing his 12 string guitar, cooking, completing cross word puzzles, playing solitaire, walking on the beach and training to complete various 5ks, 10ks and half marathons. At the age of 75, he proudly completed the Donna Run Half Marathon, along side his daughter-in-law, Christal Jones. Dudley was a lover of animals. He and his wife Sheryl owned and rescued many animals including cats, squirrels, and dogs, which included their beloved dogs, Chica and Wisteria. Dudley was a man with a charitable heart. He was a patron of St. Jude Children’s Hospital, Jacksonville Humane Society, Pilots N Paws, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, and Florida Yorkie Rescue.
Dudley was described as one of the ‘Great Personalities’ of all our lives. He was a leader, a poet, a comedian, and a storyteller. He was the embodiment of intelligence, faith, love, generosity and wisdom. Dudley was a man of few words but every word he uttered resonated with profound love and wisdom. He was whole heartedly devoted to his family. He never hesitated to be the pillar of support for those he loved, giving selflessly without seeking anything in return. His legacy of kindness and wisdom will forever guide and inspire us.
Dudley was preceded in death by his father, Laymon Ernest Jones, his mother, Nellie Underhill Jones, and his sister, Velma Jones Davenport, all of McMinnville, Tennessee. He is survived by his wife, Sheryl Wheeler Jones, his daughter, Shannon Cole (Chris), his son, James “Jamie” Rea, his son, Kyle Jones, his daughter, Aleatha “Lea” Hampton (Nicholas), and his seven grandchildren, Sarah Cole, Connor Cole, Isabella Rea, Roman Rea, Isaac Jones, Hannah Jones and Luciana “Luci” Hampton.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family requests that memorial donations be made in honor of Dudley to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Pilots N Paws or your local Humane Society.