By DEUCE NIVEN
Rev. James Pervis Jones, known by many simply as J.P. Jones, passed away Monday in Angel Care Hospice House in Whiteville following months of declining health. He was 93.
Born the first of ten children to a farm family near Fuquay-Varina on Oct. 20, 1924, Jones came to Columbus County in the 1940s to pastor a church, his third, after accepting a call to preach at the age of 19.
He was soon called to Emanuel Holiness Church in Tabor City, where he served for nearly 15 years. He preached at several area churches during most of the remaining years of his life.
His outlook on life was reflected in a 1994 interview, when he was 70.
“I am more thrilled and excited to be alive today than ever before,” Jones said then. “Every day is a great day if you are alive and there is always reason to be happy.”
Providing for his family while serving as a preacher Jones used the skills he had learned in his younger years working in a meat business, saving $3,000, enough to open his first store in Bladenboro, the beginnings of a business empire that grew to be a chain of 40 Jones discount stores that would thrive for nearly half a century.
“I went to work for Mr. J.P. at the age of 14,” Mayor Royce Harper said Monday. “I worked in the warehouse and in the store, until I came to work in the family business.
“He was an outstanding man, a man of God. He had a fine family, I thought the world of him.”
Through his stores, Jones had a major impact on his community, Harper said.
“About everyone in this community at one time or the other worked for J&C Wholesale or Jones Stores,” Harper said. “He had a major impact on Tabor City.”
Jones was unfailing kind, with good advice, the mayor said.
“He was always uplifting, always had a kind word,” Harper said. “He told me once, ‘Son, let me give you some advice. Buy all the land you can, they won’t make anymore.’
“And he did, he bought all the land he could.”
See the full obituary here, the complete tribute in this week’s Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.