Red’s influence immeasurable

The first two words in Bill Wellock’s piece on Red Jones on page 3 of today’s Citizens Voice are “Bill” and “Ackerman.”
That’s my brother.
He’s one of the first people Wellock sought out as he prepared a feature story on Jones, who died Monday, because of a text my brother sent to Red’s son Bill Jones as soon as he heard of Red’s passing. “My son is an American because of your dad,” the text said.
That powerful statement underscores the kind, philanthropic, positive life Red Jones led and gives evidence that the influence of his life extends far into the future. The offspring of little Aloysha Ackerman, should the recent high school grad go on to become a father, will also be Americans because of Red Jones. And so on and so on.
Close to 20 years ago my brother and his wife, Gina Major Ackerman, met and fell in love with two little Russian orphans who were visiting America as part of an adoption program. They decided to adopt the girls, who were sisters, and began a process that included more than one long trip to Russia. In was an enormously expensive venture, but one they gladly undertook.
On one of those trips, the little girls brought a little boy by the hand over to them saying one of the few English words they knew: brother.
Bill and Gina could not leave that little boy behind and wound up adopting three children, not two.
When the three learned more English, they began to talk about their other brother, a toddler in a different orphanage. They knew they had to seek him out and reunite him with his siblings, but by then their financial resources had been exhausted.
Enter Red Jones.
He offered to put on a spaghetti dinner to help raise funds. At the time, my brother wondered how a few hundred dollars from a spaghetti dinner was going to help get them to the $20,000 or more they’d need. But, Red Jones, assured them the spaghetti dinner was more about awareness than about solving their financial problem. Have faith, he said.
He was right.
An anonymous donor, whose name Jones never revealed, stepped up and basically underwrote the mission. Red Jones handed my brother a check for $20,000.
Red Jones, 79, was many things to many people: coach, fundraiser, square dance caller, school board member, county commissioner, as well as husband, dad, grandfather and friend. He epitomized the term “servant leader.”
To get the full picture of Red Jones’ life, grab a copy of today’s (July 19) Citizens Voice or go to citizens As mentioned, Wellock’s story appears on page 3. The Red Jones obituary is on page 19.

Ed Ackerman