FAIRMONT - A former Fairmont police officer who became so legendary that he was named in a song has passed away.
Major Jones, 88, died Sunday following complications from Alzheimer's and a fractured hip. Funeral services are scheduled for Jan. 5. A full obituary appears on page 4A of today's Sentinel.
Jones always considered himself just "a hometown boy," as he stated when interviewed for the Sentinel's Hometown Legends magazine in 2007. But he helped a generation of Fairmont children during his many years on the school patrol.
"About 2,000 kids went through his school patrol," said Dick Jones, Major's son. "It wasn't like today, where kids have lots of options. Every year, he took a busload of kids to the Shriners circus ... For 14 years, the patrol members got to go to camp, and they'd get to go on tours, a Twins game, and this was at no cost to the students."
How did Jones manage to do this? A lot of community support.
"It was a way for them to come across and say thank you," Dick Jones said.
Major Jones worked with the Fairmont police from 1948 to 1970. Then he worked with Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, training officers all over the state.
"That was interesting because he used a picture of me standing in front of my gold Chevy Nova with his phone number on the bottom, and he would tell them, 'If you ever see this vehicle, pull him over, detain him, impound the vehicle, and call me collect.'" Dick Jones recalled. "There was a trip with a frat brother on the way to see my father, and we did get pulled over, put in back of the squad car and in jail. My dad came in and said, 'You look good behind bars.' It was an ongoing joke, but to this day, my frat brother won't go on a trip with me."
Jones also dedicated a lot of his times to organizations such as the Boy Scouts, VFW, American Legion, Elks and Chain of Lakes Lodge. He also was known for playing Santa at Christmas.
"Growing up with Major Jones as my dad was interesting," Dick Jones said. "I couldn't get away with anything, even though I tried. But my older brother did end up going into law enforcement. And it got to the point we couldn't go anywhere without running into someone he knew."
Jones received even more recognition once he was mentioned by songwriter and performer Warren Nelson.
"When [Nelson] did the Martin County Horn Pipe recording, he was reminiscing about Fairmont," Dick Jones said. "They sang about cruising Blue Earth Avenue, and 'Major Jones will pull you over.' When they performed that at the Opera House, my mom and dad were in the audience, and they had him stand up and be recognized. He really liked that."
Around the time of the Hometown Legends article, Jones donated many of his police items and also managed to get a uniform collection to donate to the local Pioneer Museum. Many of the items for the police and law displays are from Jones.
"He did a lot of things that people didn't know about. He didn't do things just to get credit for them," Dick Jones said. "It was like he said in the Legend's article, 'You take a job, you do a job.' He was just that way."