Grace Jones of Black Oak is known all around the area as a friend to the young, old and in-between. She has been volunteering for as far back as she can remember. When she was young she was part of the Pink Ladies at St. Bernards Hospital.
Jones was born in Gregg's Grove, the trees that were on the west side of Highway 18 just outside of Black Oak. Fourth of July picnics and campaign speeches were held there.
She is the daughter of the late Clyde and Lillie Fry. She has three brothers, Charles Fry of Corn, Okla., Ray Fry of Burke, Vir., and James Fry (deceased).
She attended elementary school in Black Oak and graduated from Monette High School in 1964. After graduation she went to work at American Greetings in Osceola where she worked for two years before going to work at Southwestern Bell Telephone Company in Jonesboro.
She married Lonnie Gene Jones, and after five years in Jonesboro they came back home to Black Oak.
She became a full time homemaker and mother in 1972. Her children are Lonnie Lee Jones (deceased), Glenda Hinson and Kristie Evans, both of Wynne, Clydean Hardy of Southhaven, Miss., and Brad Jones of Hatton, Ala. She has 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
She attends the Black Oak Church of Christ.
She has always had a desire to help people and in 1981 she became an EMT and started working for Buffalo Island EMS in 1982. She has been an EMT for 27 years and plans on being recertified in 2009.
In 1982 she started working for Gregg Insurance Company (Gregg Funeral Home, Inc.) in Jonesboro. She also served on the Black Oak City Council.
In 1989 she saw a need and started working with family and friends whose lives had been affected by alcoholism. In 1998 she started working with young people whose lives had been affected by alcoholism.
When she quit working for Buffalo Island EMS she became a volunteer first responder and fireman for Black Oak Fire Department.
Her father died in 1981. When her mother could no longer live by herself, she went to live with her youngest brother and his wife, James and Paulette Fry, of Black Oak.
"After James died, Mom stayed with Paulette," Jones said. "She loved her like a daughter. Mom's health made it necessary for her to go to Monette Manor. Mom was treated like royalty by the staff. They told her they loved her but more importantly, they showed it. She loved to hear Elvis (Michael Smith) perform. When she could not sit long enough for his show, he would go down to her room for a private performance. She became his great-grandmother. Every time he and his wife, Debbie, entered her room, her eyes would light up with a twinkle and a smile would come across her face. During Mom's stay at Monette Manor, Brenda Laffoon, activity director, asked me about doing a Bible class for the residents. I really enjoyed doing it. After Mom died I was asked if I planned on continuing the class. They all wanted me to so I am still here. I call it giving back. When I am away visiting my family, I really do miss my extended family at Monette Manor. Not just me, there are a lot of people who volunteer to be a part of the Monette Manor family. Pat Foster and Becky Gipson help do Mary Kay for both the men and women. They enjoy doing it as much as the residents enjoy being pampered. The residents give me so much more than I could ever give them."
Her life is busy but she has never been too busy to look around and see where she can help. Two years ago she started taking an Al-Anon meeting to the Women's prison at Newport.
"We have all made choices that were not so wise," she said. "Some had to pay the consequences. The women I meet with want to make a better life when they are released."
She has led an Al-Anon meeting at St. Bernards Behavioral Health (formerly Greenleaf) since 1999. She said there are several Al-Anon support meetings in the area. There is one at the Frontier Restaurant in Leachville on Sundays at 7:30 p.m.
"Mrs. Gregg, my boss, died in 2004. The funeral home and insurance company were sold," Jones said. "This made it possible for me to quit work in 2006 and I was blessed to be able to be with my Mom more before her death on Feb. 3, 2007. Since that time I have been kept quite busy with children, grandchildren, other family members, Al-Anon, Alateen, and Monette Manor."
Mrs. Jones is a full time volunteer somewhere helping people of all ages.
"I feel selfish because I get more from the people around me than I give," she said. "I am most blessed and grateful."