Fire Chief John Jones Photo

Former Stephens City Fire Chief John Jones passed away on Thursday.

STEPHENS CITY — Town officials are remembering former Stephens City Fire Chief John William Jones I, who passed away Thursday at his home from cancer. He was 57.

“Chief Jones was invaluable as an asset to the town and to me personally,” Town Manager Mike Majher said. “Coming into the town, I was immediately greeted warmly by the fire company. I attribute that to Chief Jones personally and him as a leader within his organization.”

He called Jones’s loss “significant” and said his service over the years to the fire company and the community “cannot be understated.”

Jones began his fire service career in 1980 at age 16 when he joined Rouss Fire Company in Winchester. He spent four years volunteering at Rouss before joining Stephens City Fire and Rescue in 1984, where he progressed through the department’s ranks. He obtained life membership status in 1999 after 15 years of service. He served as sergeant, deputy chief and assistant chief before being elected chief in December 2015. He was chief for four years before stepping back to focus on his health and his family.

“It is very unfortunate to lose somebody who is so dedicated to our community the way that John was,” said Stephens City Mayor Mike Diaz. “He will certainly be missed by the community and by the volunteer fire department. He really helped put it in the place that it is here in Stephens City.”

Stephens City Police Chief Bill Copp said Jones was “a great guy” with a “very calm demeanor” who strongly supported the police department.

“He was always great to work with, motivated,” Copp said. “Very well respected.”

In addition to serving the fire company, Jones owned and operated J&J Janitorial since 1989, according to his obituary.

Jones’s accomplishments over his 42 years of service in fire and rescue were numerous, current Stephens City Fire Chief Timothy Vaught wrote in an email to The Star. They included helping to establish a water rescue team in 2008 with a single boat, vehicle and a handful of swiftwater technicians, including Jones. He and the original swiftwater technicians developed a swiftwater awareness program for first responders — the first in the area — that continues to be delivered to first responders in Frederick County and surrounding areas by team members.

“Chief Jones served his community and his department in many important roles throughout his tenure. He volunteered many hours in this capacity while raising a family and leading a growing local business,” Vaught stated. “He always had a positive, can-do attitude and believed that no project was impossible. His values, vision, and beliefs have provided many advancements to the fire and rescue service in Stephens City and the surrounding area which will benefit the community for many years to come.”

Vaught described Jones as “a Pied Piper of the department” who could easily persuade members to come to assist in any endeavor.

Jones was a “driving force” in the remodeling of the station’s property at 5325 Mulberry St. that now houses the department’s administrative offices, Vaught noted, and he played an instrumental role in the design and development of many of the apparatuses that continue serving the community, including many ambulances, all of the pumpers currently in service, and the current aerial device and its upcoming replacement. He also recruited many new members to the department and was the vision behind the annual Santa Run in Stephens City “that brings joy to young and old alike during the Christmas season.”

“His passing leaves a physical void that will be impossible to fill but through his accomplishments, initiatives, and service he has made an impact on many lives,” Vaught wrote. “Through this legacy, he will live on in the hearts and minds of many for decades to come.”

Jones is survived by his wife Bonnie, his father, three children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A funeral will be 2 p.m. Saturday at Shenandoah Valley Baptist Church with Pastor Bill Moore officiating. Burial will follow in Green Hill Cemetery, Stephens City. The family will receive friends from 6-8 pm. Friday at Shenandoah Valley Baptist Church.

Memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105 or to Stephens City Fire & Rescue, P. O. Box 253, Stephens City 22655.

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