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MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: James Larry Jones, president of the Walker County Farmers Federation, is learning to push forward following a devastating house fire last January.

-- Photo by Matthew Durdin

Name:
James Larry Jones

Age:
72

Residence:
Oakman

Alfa Member Since:
1971

Current Office or Board:
President, Walker County Farmers Federation.

Previous Office(s) or Board:
Jones has served on the WCFF board since 1978 and as president of the Walker County Farmers Federation since 1990.

Other Activities:
Jones is also president of the Walker County TREASURE Forest Association, and vice-president of the Walker County Genealogy Society. He also serves on the advisory board of the FFA Chapter at Oakman High School, and has served on the board at Parrish High School.

My Farm:
Jones' 620-acre farm is a diverse operation with about 500 acres of timber, 40 head of Angus cattle, 50 goats, 50 laying hens, 25 guinea hens, two mules and two Pyrenees dogs. He also bales and sells hay, and has a large vegetable garden with tomatoes and peas.

"I manage my forest land, and try to do a good job on that," said Jones, whose operation was certified as a TREASURE forest about a decade ago. "Becoming a TREASURE forest operation was really hard thing for me to do, but I just kept doing what they recommended and I'm glad I did because I want this to be environmentally sound. I have a group of men who hunt on my place, and I don't charge them anything. They help me out by keeping the roadways cleared, and they recently put up a real nice gate. They'll do anything I ask to help me. ... There's always something that needs to be done."

My Family:
Jones and his wife, Sara, have been married for 53 years. They have two daughters, Lisa German (James), and Kathy Jones; and one son, Mark Jones. They also have two grandsons, Andrew and Alex German.

My Faith:
Member of Valley View Church of Christ.

The Fire ...:
The Joneses' home of 47 years burned Jan. 4 while the couple were away at a doctor's appointment, a tragic event that they are still struggling to get over more than eight months later.

"That was a bad lick," said Jones. "There wasn't anything left but the foundation. It was a sad thing. It's hard to get over because I'm a pack rat, and I don't waste anything and I keep everything, but it all went up in smoke. It was devastating but you can't let it get you down. I try not to think about it because you've just got to move on, but it's hard."

The Joneses now reside in a rental home in Oakman, 11 miles from his farm and where his home once stood. He set up a former FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) mobile home at the farm so that he can look after things, and spends much of his day there. "I plan to build back, but it's going to be slow," said Jones.

You May Not Know That ...
Jones' love of history is evident in his work with the Walker County Genealogy Society. A member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Jones says his family arrived in the Carolinas from Wales in the 1700s. He is the eighth generation to live in America.

"I've always liked genealogy," he said. "I've always liked to listen to older people talk. I remember how older folks used to talk about the big snow in 1940. I wasn't born until 1938, but just hearing them talk about how it snowed for two weeks, and how they'd wrap their legs in toe sacks to keep warm was always interesting to me."

Jones started on his family research about 12 years ago, but has devoted more time to it since 2000 when he retired from his job as a barge loader for a coal company on Shoal Creek.

-- Compiled by Darryal Ray


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