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Published: Wednesday, 7/19/2006

Longtime firefighter was war vet, handyman

James A. Jones, 79, a Toledo firefighter for 28 years who rose through the ranks to become a district chief, died of lung cancer Sunday in the Hospice of Northwest Ohio, South Detroit Avenue.

He retired in 1982.

"He was one of the good guys. People thought a lot of him," said Robert Schwanzl, a retired Toledo fire assistant chief. "The day he retired, I completed his shift as District 3 chief."

Mr. Jones became a firefighter in 1955 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1965 and to captain in 1969. He began his career at Station No. 18, then on West Sylvania Avenue and now site of the Toledo Firefighters Museum. He also served at No. 19, then at Stickney and Ketcham avenues, No. 17, then at North Detroit and Glenwood avenues, and the former No. 10 on the east side.

"He had a good rapport with the men," Mr. Schwanzl said.

Mr. Jones' daughter, Kim Harrod, said: "He was a very dedicated member of that brotherhood."

On his days off, Mr. Jones was a substitute teacher in the Toledo Public Schools. In retirement, he was a driver and handyman for the former St. Anthony Villa.

A native of Williamsburg, Ky., Mr. Jones attended Cumberland College and was proud of his Kentucky heritage. He later attended the University of Toledo and remained a Toledoan after moving to the city more than 50 years ago.

"He came north when all the jobs were in Detroit," his daughter said. "He headed to Detroit and stopped in Toledo and stayed."

He was an Army corporal and took part in the battle at the Punchbowl during the Korean War. He received a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He didn't say much about his experiences. His brother was killed in the war, and he accompanied the body home to Kentucky. With North Korea in the news recently, he began to speak some of his wartime service.

"It was just a very difficult thing, and he carried that with him for a long time," she said. "My dad was a very proud American and was very proud of his service to his country. I always knew that."

Mr. Jones had on an American flag lapel pin when he wore a suit, and he flew the flag at home.

He and his wife, Anna, were longtime members of Fairgreen Presbyterian Church, where he had been a deacon and elder.

Surviving are his wife, Anna, whom he married Dec. 26, 1951; son, Scott Jones; daughter, Kimberly Harrod; sisters, Elizabeth Hornsby and Janie Hill, and four grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in Fairgreen Presbyterian Church.

The family suggests tributes to the church or to the Hospice of Northwest Ohio.



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