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Community mourns loss of Chat Jones

Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Friends and family praised and thanked Chat Jones during his funeral service Tuesday for setting the example of how to serve the community and selflessly help others.

First United Methodist Church was filled with mourners who came to remember and honor Chester Allen Jones, who everyone knew as Chat, and it was sure the case that nearly everyone seemed to know him.
Jones died Friday night of accidental carbon-monoxide poisoning in the garage of his used-car dealership. He was 63.
Lucy Jones Brevard, his daughter, said that she had never seen a crowd bigger than the throng that turned out Monday night for a visitation at Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Home. People waited three hours to reach the family, and the visitation didn't end until after 11 p.m.
"You could see what he was in his life by what he did for others and how he treated others," she said. "He loved Mama so much and he loved us all. He was humble and he led by example. ... So many people have said they had no idea what all he had done. That's the way Dad would have wanted it."
Rob and Dana Jones, the twin children of Chat's brother Donnie, said they were fortunate to grow up, as Dana said, "with not one but two sets of parents. He would never say no to playing any kind of game and he was always there for us to be a big kid."
Her uncle was "intelligent, curious and humble," she said, and never failed to demonstrate that he recognized "the importance of others, regardless of their circumstances."
Rob Jones said his Uncle Chat and Aunt Judy "treated us like grandchildren." He made the mistake once of taking to his uncle a homework assignment about his family background. "I figured he might have a couple things to say about it," Rob said. Famous for his attention to detail and dogged determination as a researcher of genealogy, Uncle Chat filled notebook paper with facts.
"I came back with a page and a half of things no one needed to know," Rob said, to appreciative laughter. The experience showed what hundreds of people found when they visited Chat with a simple request. "You'd go ask for a little bit and you'd come back with a lot," he said.
Brother Donnie, who worked at Jones Auto Sales as the garage man to Chat's salesmanship, said his brother committed to every job with his whole self.
"If you're going to do anything, do it the best you can," Donnie said. "If it doesn't mean anything to you or if it's the most important thing in the world, give it your best. Getting it done wasn't good enough. Do it the best it could be done."
Chat always "looked for the best in everybody." Like most speakers, Donnie said Chat was proud of his family heritage and his community's tradition and felt it was important to honor and preserve both.
Brother Gary said he didn't know if he'd be able to stand in public and talk about his brother but decided overnight that he'd share with the mourners "what Chat would tell us."
"No. 1, don't worry about me. No. 2, know who you are and where you're headed. No. 3, your heritage, your culture, your traditions are important. Learn them. No. 4, learn something new every day and share it with everyone. No. 5, take care of family and take care of everyone."
Richard Rhodes, a WHKP broadcaster and salesman, said he'd burst through the door of Jones Auto Sales every Monday morning and say, "What's going on? And without fail, Chat would say, not much. That was a lie, because I promise you there wasn't a day that went by there wasn't something going on that was amazing at Jones Auto Sales."
Tuesday morning, Rhodes said, he was talking to a car salesman at another dealership. "He said there isn't a day that goes by that somebody doesn't quote something they learned from Chat," he said.
Rhodes exhorted the congregation to use their time, talent and energy as Chat had done to help others. "God blessed Chat, he blessed others and God was glorified," he said. "It's really simple."
Chat was an Edneyville Yellow Jacket through and through, said Gary Rhodes, a high school classmate and lifelong friend. But that did not stop him from supporting all four high schools, attending their games. Newspapers reported that he graduated in 1969 but that was because Chat attended his senior year twice to pass biology. "They had him for 12 years," he said of the class of '68, "we had him for one."
At the visitation Monday night, "Somebody said he was so in love with Judy he deliberately failed biology, and knowing Chat, as smart as he was, I believed it."
Chat was gone but not lost, said Tom Orr, a retired teacher who worked with Chat tracking local history. We could fine him in the eyes of his wife and his children, in the energy and spirit of the Edneyville community, in the applause for athletes and scholars at a Kiwanis Club meeting, in looking at his life "to learn what unselfish service really means."
Jeff Miller said he was honored to speak on behalf of the community for Chat and what he meant.
"It's a shame you don't really know somebody till they're gone," he said, pointing to how much Chat Jones had given and how little it was known. It's impossible to make sense of his death but it is possible to learn from his life, Miller said.
"We can only learn from and I can only honor Chat by being a better man and being a better friend to others," he said.
Scripture readings were from Job 24: 1-13, Psalm 125, Matthew 5: 1-12, and Matthew 25:40. Carolyn Grimes-Sherwood sang The Lord's Prayer, and the congregation sang "How Great Thou Art" and "Amazing Grace."
"Imagine," the Rev. Dan Martin said in his homily, "a used car dealer that was honest."
The world can be a place of darkness that makes victims and victimizers.
"He chose not to become a victim or victimizer," Martin said. "He chose to become a part of the solution, face to face, hands on, with the orphans and the single mothers."