LAWRENCE — Harold Dale Jones, Lawrence, beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, died Saturday, Sept. 25, at LMH Health, Lawrence. He was 96.
He was born May 31, 1925, in Osage City, the youngest of three sons of Belle and Lloyd Jones. He attended Osage City schools and graduated from Osage City High School in 1943, where he was the center on the basketball team.
Like many in his generation, World War II greatly influenced the person Harold became. Inducted into the U.S. Army in August 1943, three months after graduating, Harold deployed to Europe with the 102nd Infantry Division in September 1944 and entered combat in October 1944. As a member of Company L, 405th Infantry Regiment, Harold fought in a series of actions in Holland and Germany, including an intense two-day battle for Boslar, Germany, for which the regiment received a presidential citation. Immediately following that battle, on February 25, 1944, Harold was badly wounded and spent the next two months in a hospital in France, rejoining his unit on the front at the Elbe River in Germany near the end of the war.
Although Harold considered himself neither courageous nor heroic, he was awarded a Bronze Star for bravery in combat, in addition to the Purple Heart and other honors. Soon after entering combat, the then 19-year-old Harold was promoted to staff sergeant, where he commanded a squad of men all considerably older than him. One of Harold’s fondest memories was of being selected for the 102nd Infantry Division Chorus, which performed concerts in Germany, France and Austria in the year following the end of the war.
Upon discharge from the Army in March 1946, Harold enrolled at the University of Kansas. He graduated in 1949 with the highest scholastic standing in the School of Business.
He married Margaret Meyer, also of Osage City, in September 1949. He died on what would have been their 72nd wedding anniversary.
Soon after starting work as an accountant, Harold received a call from the owner of the Osage City newspaper. He had purchased a small, struggling weekly newspaper, the Redfield Press, in Redfield, S. D., and asked Harold and Margaret to move to South Dakota to run the newspaper, which they did. They purchased the Press in 1958, and another weekly paper, the Webster Reporter & Farmer, in 1965. Harold had a long and distinguished journalism career, and it became his passion to produce the highest quality newspaper. The Press regularly won South Dakota Press Association awards and was designated a “Blue Ribbon” newspaper by the National Editorial Foundation. Harold served as president of the South Dakota chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, the professional journalism fraternity, in 1963; was president of the South Dakota Press Association in 1965; and was elected to the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in 1991.
He led a very active life outside of work in Redfield, and enjoyed many close friendships. He was a Sunday school teacher, choir member and lay leader of the United Methodist Church. He was active in a large number of organizations and causes, and at various times was the president of the Redfield School Board, president of the Chamber of Commerce, and president of the Kiwanis Club. A talented vocalist, Harold was a member of a barbershop quartet, the Mason Dixon Four, which won the state American Legion competition several times and placed second nationally twice.
Harold retired in 1980, and he and Margaret returned to Kansas in 1990, settling in Lawrence. He enjoyed retirement to the fullest. The intensity and drive that were his hallmarks while he worked were overshadowed by his gregarious personality and sense of humor in retirement. He greatly enjoyed making new friends in Lawrence. He was an active member of the Kiwanis and Forum Clubs, as well as the First United Methodist Church, where he sang in the choir. He was particularly proud to have delivered Meals on Wheels weekly for 23 years in Lawrence, and to have served as the chairman of the board of the local organization.
He and Margaret traveled extensively in retirement, visiting over 30 countries. He particularly enjoyed both visiting and hosting members of the Le Roux family, with whom he lived in Holland for several weeks while training replacement troops in January 1945. Most of all, Harold enjoyed following the lives of his six grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, all of whom he adored.
Harold was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret.
He is survived by his daughter, Lynette Eastwold (Paul), St. Paul, Minn.; son, Steven Jones (Mary Nohara), Summit, N.J.; six grandchildren, Rachel Moore, Sarah Eastwold, Claire Fuller, Andrew Jones, Peter Jones and Emily Jones; 13 great-grandchildren; a brother-in-law, Carl Meyer, Osage City; a sister-in-law, Dorothy Meyer, Osage City; nine nieces and nephews; and many friends.
Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, at First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont Street, Lawrence. Burial will follow at Osage City Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to Redfield United Methodist Church, 1326 W. First St., Redfield, SD 57469 or to First United Methodist Church, 946 Vermont St., Lawrence, KS 66044 and sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary, 120 W. 13th St., Lawrence, KS 66044.
Condolences can be left at WarrenMcElwain.com.