Class of 1969
As a son of the publisher of the Johnson City Press-Chronicle John A. (Johnny) Jones was expected to work in the business as a youngster. The Johnson City native, born in 1946, is the son of the late Carl A. and Kathryn Jones. He carried newspapers, worked in the mail room and answered the newspaper switchboard. At16, he spent summers and weekends working in the photography department under the tutelage of the late Jimmy Ellis. He also began learning to write and report in the news department under George Kelly and Tom Hodge. All three of these gentlemen became important figures as adjunct professors in the East Tennessee State University Department of Communication.
Jones graduated from Science Hill High School in Johnson City in 1964 and enrolled in East Tennessee State University as a freshman with plans to transfer to the University of Missouri School of Journalism in his junior year. Like many in the Vietnam War period, he enlisted in the Tennessee National Guard in 1966. He also married the late Janice (Sissy) Winters of Johnson City that year. His plans to transfer to the University of Missouri were dashed when he was unable to transfer his National Guard membership out of state. He began working full time as a reporter in the news department of the Johnson City Press-Chronicle in 1966 and awaited service in the Army basic training and advanced training.
Completing his training after several quarters he returned to ETSU to find the university had begun a major in communications. He entered the communications major of the fledgling department under then Chairman Max Marshall. In the meantime, continuing to work full time at the newspaper he and his wife brought their only child, Jacqueline, into the world in 1968.
Jones graduated among the first five graduates of the new Communication Department in 1969. Upon graduation he and his family moved to Nashville where he spent nearly four years as a political and state government writer for the Nashville Banner.
In 1973, he returned to the Johnson City Press-Chronicle as a managing editor. He remained in that position until being named Editor-In-Chief in 1978. During this time his father had successfully acquired other Tennessee newspapers, including the Lebanon Democrat, the Hartsville Vidette , the Covington Leader , the Fayette Falcon, the Jonesborough Herald and Tribune, the Erwin Record and the Tomahawk at Mountain City.
Upon his father's death in 1992, he and his siblings acquired ownership and management of the newspapers. His two brothers Tim and Carleton, along with his sister Alice Torbett decided to sell the newspaper in 2002 and Jones exited the newspaper business.
Jones's interest in politics and state government continued throughout his working career. In 1986, he took a six-month leave of- absence from the newspaper and served as Director of Communications for the campaign for governor of then Speaker of the House Ned Ray McWherter. Jones was a member of the "kitchen cabinet" during McWherter's eight years in office. McWherter appointed him to serve on the Tennessee Wildlife Resources commission during which he was chairman for a year. During his term he was successful in working with State Sen Dewey Crowe and Rep Ralph Cole in creating the Tennessee Watchable Wildlife automobile license tag, which funds virtually all non-game wildlife habitat enhancement programs in Tennessee.
In 1992 McWherter appointed Jones to fill his late father's seat on the three member Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the agency which oversees licensing and regulation of the state's alcoholic beverage laws. He has been reappointed to that position by Gov Don Sundquist and Gov Phil Bredesen and currently serves as chairman.
Jones continues to have a vested interest in the affairs of ETSU. He has served several years on the board of the ETSU Alumni Association and served as president from 2000-2002. While serving on the board, Jones along with four other interested staff and alumni board members conceived the idea of ETSU PRIDE Week.
In addition, Jones also has been active in community affairs. He has served as chairman of the board of Tipton-Haynes Historical Association, the Johnson City Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Johnson City Chamber of Commerce. He was the fund-raising chairman for the effort to build a new facility for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Tennessee . He is a member of the Johnson City Rotary Club.
His daughter Jacqueline lives in Nashville with her husband, Cliff Hawks, vice president and general manager of the Nashville Super Speedway. Jones spends much of his time in Nashville pursuing spiritual and humanitarian interests. He attends a small non-denominational chapel on the outskirts of Nashville . But his home remains in Johnson City , where his heart is.