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The shame of it is we never had the chance to thank Chat Jones.

We took it for granted that he'd be around to help the down-on-their-luck, that he'd take care of a hundred little problems that other people had, that he'd do all the work and we'd get the benefit from his research of local history and collecting of photos.
The community woke up Saturday morning to learn that Chat Jones had passed away the night before at age 63 and we suddenly realized, too late, what a treasure we had. That's the nature of a sudden and abrupt passing, and it ought to, once again, serve as a warning to us all. It was the biggest shock to our local nervous system since the sudden death of Rob Cranford in February 2010.
Born May 15, 1949, to David Nathaniel and Marcene Corn Jones, Chester Allan Jones never left home or wanted to. He married his high school sweetheart, Judy Lyda, and his dad helped him get a job at the Boyd dealership. He stayed a car man all his life. He knew plenty about cars, how they ran, how to buy them, how to sell them. But he knew a lot more about the human heart and the heart of a community, and he was darn good at reading both.
Sometimes it seems like we have the Edneyville crowd, the Green River gang, the Mills River folk, old Hendersonville. Chat bridged them all. During high school football season, he'd pick a stadium to visit, often accompanied by his trusty sidekick, grandson Jones C. "Jay" Mullinax. Chat knew dozens of people in the stands, maybe hundreds, whether he'd picked Hendersonville, West, East or North.
You could fill a stadium with people that Chat Jones had helped over the years and in almost every case Chat's act of charity would have been unannounced. He never exalted himself.
"I had kids over the years that maybe couldn't afford some things like basketball shoes, he was always there," said John Whitmire, who coached at Edneyville High School and knew Chat for 44 years. "If we didn't have enough money for a banquet, he was always there. If we didn't have money for trophies, Chat was there. This whole county, he is really going to be missed. We'll never know all the different projects he was involved in."
We will not. But all who got help from Chat know who they are. All we can do in tribute is to be more like Chat Jones. People are saddened this week, for good reason. When we think of that grin, or see an old photo, or recall the historical footnotes he'd announce about most any scene or event, we might be saddened for a long time to come. We can also cherish those memories.
Chat is gone but the good that he did lives on, in Balfour babies in dry diapers, young men and young women with college diplomas, Special Needs baseball players, swings for handicapped children. We can honor him best by building on what he so selflessly gave us.