SANDBRIDGE — Richard “Dick” Jones III is remembered for his love of family, friends and life, especially life in Sandbridge, where he built a home, lasting relationships and a reputation for his unique act of kindness – giving $2 bills to children.
Family and friends celebrated his life in February during a gathering at the Sandbridge Island Restaurant, where Jones’ collection of shirts were on clothespins on the walls. Some of the tees were funny – a few too funny to describe in a newspaper – and others proclaimed his love of fitness, especially his longtime membership at Wareing’s Gym. That, too, came with humor. Jones has named one machine the “lean machine” because he leaned against it, friends said.
Some shirts also had been sewn together as his pall at the funeral service, and $2 bills folded like flowers were placed with him, according to his wife.
A number of guests at the celebration carried and wore small decorative $2 bills. A drink for the man of honor rested at the corner of the bar where he had sat.
Some called Jones, who was 83, the “mayor” of Sandbridge.
Another nickname was the “two dollar man,” said Anne N. Jones, his wife, during an interview. “That was so precious because it was great to hear the kids come back, year after year, vacationing: ‘Hey, Mom! That’s the two dollar man!’”
One time, he gave $2 to a boy whose family came back to Jones and asked to take a photo because their adoption of the child had become final that day.
It all began, Anne Jones said, with gifts from an aunt when he was a boy. The aunt would send $2 in birthday cards. Anne Jones said her husband has given out thousands of dollars, two at a time, over the years. He wore gym shorts and a polo to his rest, she added.
“There was no way I could send him to heaven in a suit and tie,” she said.
As for the $2 bills folded like flowers?
“I figured out when he went to heaven, he would like to buy the first round at the bar,” she said.
He was born in Richmond to the late Richard W. Jones II and Grace H. Jones. He is survived by his wife of 22 years, and they dated 17 years before that, waiting for her children to be raised before they wed. He is also survived by son Mark W. Jones; daughter Jennifer L. Collins; stepchildren Ashley Royal Shelton, G.S. Brown III, and Tyler N. Brown; six grandchildren; and his uncle, Royal C. Madry Jr. He is predeceased by a brother, Millard Jones, and a grandchild, Hunter Elizabeth Jones, according to his obituary.
John Parker of Sandbridge became friends with Jones after they met on the beach in the 1980s. They became friends almost instantly, Parker said. “I thought he was a great guy right off the get-go.”
Jones also became a mentor in business, helping him find a location for his business. Jones sometimes called himself a “peddler,” according to his wife, but he was a success at business, starting with a forklift business and expanding into development.
The Joneses also formed part of a group of close friends, couples who spent a great deal of time together here and on trips.
“We were called the herd,” Anne Jones said.
“One of the things people don’t know is we married Dick and Anne before they were officially wed,” Parker said during the gathering. “Charlie Earp was the preacher. I was the best man.” Donna Earp was a bridesmade, and Elizabeth Parker, his wife, was a flower girl.
Elizabeth Parker said the friends – including Charlie and Donna Earp – also gave them a “baby” during a trip to Georgia.
“It was a doll,” she said, noting that its name was a mouthful.
“Where’s Annie Lee Loves Daddy Dick Jones?” Elizabeth Parker asked.
“She’s in the garage,” Anne Jones responded.
Dick Jones treasured children, friends and family, people said.
Some people weren’t sure how the $2 bill tradition began – or, exactly, why.
Stan Jones of Sigma became friends with Dick Jones at a favorite spot, the since-closed Sandbridge restaurant Zest. Though not related, the men introduced each other as brothers. Dick Jones was white, Stan Jones black. “That’s how we greeted each other,” Stan Jones said, wearing a $2 bill. “Brothers.”
Martha Gaione, who owned Zest and cooked special dishes for Jones for years, said her children also got $2 bills when they were little. Her daughter Cristy, now 21, said Jones made special trips to the bank for the bills.
“Every kid who walked in there, he made sure they had a $2 bill,” she said. “And if he missed one, he would make sure he got them on the way out.”
Tyler Brown, one of Jones’ stepchildren, remembered Jones as a man who taught his sons to be gentlemen.
“He was first class, and, if he said you were first class, that was the best, ” Brown said.
Sandbridge Island Restaurant, too, prepared meals carefully for him, Anne Jones said.
“He used to always give the little kids a $2 bill,” Charlie Earp recalled. “The kids knew him when he came in.”
Added Earp, “I used to crawl around on my hands and knees and say, ‘Give me one.’”
Chuck Mullins, who manages a building in Sandbridge, and Sherri Mallon, a caregiver, discussed the $2 bills during the gathering.
“The two dollar bills, I don’t know why he’d do it,” Mullins said.
“He’d have two of them folded up in front of his plate,” Mallon said.
Ready to give away.
“Always,” Mullins said.
“I wonder if it’s because they’re, you know – ” Mallon said.
“Any kid who ever got a $2 bill from Mr. Jones, they should treasure it,” Mullins said.
© 2016 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC