Norman Edgar Jones, 92, passed peacefully to his eternal home to be with his Savior Jesus Christ on Nov. 13, 2016 in Richland, WA. Ruth Alma Jones, his beloved wife of 67 years, joined him on Feb. 15, 2023.
Norman was born April 12, 1924 to William Reynolds Jones and Myrtle Gladys Heydlauff Jones in American Falls, ID. His first home was in Roy, ID, subsequently moving with his parents about the state to Wilder, Jerome, American Falls, Rockland and back to Roy. Norman graduated from eighth grade in Roy. He attended high school in American Falls, graduating in 1941. He returned to the family dryland farm with a strong interest in tractors and automobiles that were replacing horses. World War II was soon on the horizon so he enlisted in the U.S. Navy rather than wait to be drafted.
Ruth was born Sept. 3, 1929 in American Falls, to John Zimmerman and Martha Marie Nachtigal Zimmerman. At first they lived in the Lake Channel/Quigley area west of American Falls and finally settled in the Aberdeen area. She graduated from Aberdeen High School in 1947. During her school years, Ruth was often the family babysitter for her younger sister and brother, Etta and David. She recalled going to basketball games, participating in the glee club, and the senior sneak to Boise.
In the U.S. Navy, Norman was trained as a machinist and diesel engine mechanic, and then shipped overseas to Trinidad for the duration of the war. He earned top test scores as a mechanic, but with his farm background, he was transferred to manage a large fruit and vegetable plantation. The Navy had drilled wells inland away from the harbor for an auxiliary water supply in case enemy submarines would destroy the coastal fresh water supply. The wells were on standby. Norman obtained permission to use the pumping system to irrigate the plantation thereby increasing production of fruit and vegetables to supply the naval base and outgoing ships to North Africa and France. He raised over 20 different types of fruits and vegetables. He was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1946 and returned home to assist on the family farm and to work for neighbors.
Norman was always eager to learn and take on new challenges. In addition to the formal training in the Navy, he had learned carpentry and masonry skills from his father, a professional mason. In November 1948 he enrolled in Links School of Business in Pocatello, ID, using his GI Bill. On the same day, there was another new student starting her studies: Ruth Zimmerman from Aberdeen. They soon met and were married in Aberdeen on Sept. 23, 1949. On their honeymoon, they took a road trip to Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. During the winter, they joined his parents in Santa Cruz, CA, where he worked as an apprentice electrician.
In the spring of 1950, he took over operation of the original Heydlauff and Jones homesteads at Roy, ID which he farmed through 2007. They first lived in Roy, then moved to Rockland on a rented irrigated farm and managed a cow/calf beef ranch in 1952 through 1954. During this time, Dad’s civic engagement started to blossom as he was elected president of the local Farm Bureau chapter and served for three years.
In 1955, they purchased a farm 3.5 miles northwest of Aberdeen where they raised potatoes, alfalfa, grains, corn silage and established a Grade A dairy and provided an excellent family home environment for their five children. Ruth often worked as a farmhand – driving trucks and tractors, milking cows, feeding calves and chickens, etc. With her support, Norman became actively involved in a variety of organizations and was often recognized as a leader and mediator. He was chosen as the Outstanding Young Farmer by Jaycees in 1960 and was active in Idaho Potato Growers, Inc.; Board of Directors of Upper Snake River Valley Dairymen; Aberdeen School District Board: Western General Dairies; local church board of directors and treasurer for over 40 years, served as Sunday School Bible teacher; Chairperson of Community Fund; committeeman for Boy Scouts; committee member of Cache Valley Select Sires; member of American Legion; etc. In nearly all the boards he served on, his leadership skills were evident as he was elected to serve as the chair shortly after he joined. Ruth was active in her church’s programs, serving in various officer positions, including Sunday School teacher, and youth group leader for girls. She enjoyed sewing and handwork, always had a big vegetable garden, and did a lot of home canning of pickles, fruits, and vegetables. She continued quilting, embroidering, and playing hymns on the piano until the last two weeks of her life.
While on the farm, they did all the work themselves to build a two-bedroom addition to the house and a grade A dairy barn, and overhauled, rebuilt and repaired equipment—all of which was an opportunity to transfer skills (carpentry, masonry, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, welding, etc.) to their children. They always emphasized the importance of education. In 1975, they realized that they had so successfully mentored their children to pursue advanced education and careers other than farming that there was no interest in carrying on the family farm, so they chose to retire from dairy farming. In 1976, the cows and the irrigated farm in Aberdeen were sold and they built their dream home within the city limits of Aberdeen. They continued to operate the dryland farm in Roy and he soon obtained credentials to be an insurance sales representative and a licensed real estate agent. He then moved on to farm machinery sales for six years. During this time, he continued to serve in the community, including a term on the Bingham County Planning and Zoning Board.
In 1987, Norman and Ruth joined Roving Volunteers in Christ’s Service (RVICS), traveling up to six months each year in their pickup and fifth-wheel 35-foot RV trailer, and working on more than 70 projects in the western USA. They truly flourished in this environment as it provided unlimited opportunities to use their jack-of-all-skills, including leadership on the RVICS national board of directors and as its chair.
In March 2002, they parked the trailer for the last time as the early signs of Dad’s declining health started to emerge. However, they still kept busy helping family, neighbors, friends, churches and the community in many handyman projects. In June 2010, they moved to Pasco, WA, to be near family.
They are survived by: five children, Bob (Linda), Tim (Dena), Judy (Dave) Belles, Stan (Debbie) and Dan (Dana); ten grandchildren; and ten great-grandchildren. Norman is survived by one brother, Charles; and Ruth is survived by one brother, David. To honor them, the family challenges you to be a helpful neighbor to someone in need. A graveside memorial service and celebration of life is planned in American Falls on May 27, 2023.
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