Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones
R.W.E. Jones 1970 (cropped).jpg
Jones in 1970
Born(1905-08-06)August 6, 1905
DiedApril 9, 1982(1982-04-09) (aged 76)
Alma mater
OccupationPresident and baseball coach, Grambling State University
Coaching career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1936–1977Grambling State Tigers
Head coaching record
Overall816–218 (.789)
Accomplishments and honors
Championships
  • 6× Midwest Athletic League champion
  • SWAC champion
Awards
NAIA Coach of the Year Award (1967)
College Baseball Hall of Fame
Inducted in 2011

Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones Sr. (August 6, 1905 – April 9, 1982), known as Prez Jones,[1] was an American educator and administrator. He served as the second president of Grambling State University, a historically black university in Grambling, Louisiana, from 1936 until 1977. He also coached the Grambling State Tigers baseball team, and was inducted into the National College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Early life and education

Jones was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, on August 6, 1905. His grandfather was a slave and his father, John S. Jones, was the first dean of Southern University, a historically black university in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.[1][2] His mother owned all of the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, and named her son after the author.[1]

Jones earned his bachelor's degree from Southern University in 1925.[1][2] He also earned a master's degree from Columbia University.[3][4]

Grambling State University

Charles P. Adams, the president of Grambling State University (GSU), interviewed all five members of the Southern University's 1925 graduating class and decided to hire one of Jones' classmates. However, he mixed up their names and hired Jones.[5] Though Adams recognized his mistake after his arrival, Jones stayed and was assigned to teach chemistry, math, and biology. He formed the Grambling State Tigers baseball team and served as its head coach.[1] He also formed the Grambling State Tigers football team and served as its first coach.[6] Jones assumed the duties of the registrar and dean of men, and formed the GSU Tiger Marching Band.[7] Jones also wrote Grambling State's alma mater.[1]

Jones became president of Grambling State, then known as the Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute, in 1936.[7][8] He gave up all of his duties at Grambling, except he remained the coach of the baseball team.[1] The school had joined the University of Louisiana System in 1926, but did not receive financial support until 1932, and Jones continued to advocate for more money for the school. It transitioned into a four-year college in 1944, and Jones convinced the Louisiana State Legislature to change the name to Grambling State College.[1][7] He hired Eddie Robinson to become the football coach.[6] In 1970, the Louisiana Board of Education waived the mandatory retirement requirement at age 65 for Jones.[9] Grambling State achieved university status in 1974.[7][10] Jones retired as president in 1977.[7] While he was president, the schools' faculty increased from 17 to 500 and the student body increased from 120 to 4,000.[11]

As the baseball coach, Jones had a 816–218 (.789) win–loss record. He led the Tigers to six Midwest Athletic League championships between 1952 and 1958 and to five championships in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) between 1961 and 1967. In 1967, Jones won the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Coach of the Year Award.[12] Players that he coached who reached Major League Baseball included Ralph Garr, Tommie Agee, Cleon Jones, and Johnny Jeter.[3]

Personal life and honors

R.W.E. Jones Drive in Grambling, Louisiana
R.W.E. Jones Drive in Grambling, Louisiana

Jones was married and had two sons, Ralph Jr. and John Arthur. His wife, Mildred Shay Jones, died in 1953.[1][13][14] Jones died at Lincoln General Hospital in Ruston, Louisiana, on April 9, 1982, due to complications from gallstone surgery.[2][11] Over 2,000 attended his memorial service at Grambling State, including Louisiana politicians Joe Waggonner, Alphonse Jackson, and Charles C. Barham.[11]

Jones received two honorary degrees: a Doctor of Laws from Louisiana Tech University in 1970[15] and a Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Baltimore in 1977.[16] He was inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame in 1992 and the National College Baseball Hall of Fame in 2011.[12][17] Grambling State inducted Jones into its Hall of Fame in the inaugural class in 2009[18] and renamed its baseball field after Jones and Wilbert Ellis in 2011.[12][19]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Pope, John (June 5, 1977). "The Prez: He Played It Cool". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Ralph W.E. Jones, 78, Ex-Head of Grambling". The New York Times. United Press International. April 11, 1982. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Steinberg, Dave (January 11, 1971). "Grambling's President-Coach To Stay Past Retirement Age". The Shreveport Times. Associated Press. p. 8. Retrieved December 11, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "'Prez' makes his mark". The Shreveport Journal. February 22, 1984. p. 62. Retrieved December 11, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ Layton, Charles (May 26, 1974). "Ralph Jones, Grambling Have Come Long Way in 48 Years". The Town Talk. Alexandria, Louisiana. Associated Press. Retrieved December 11, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ a b Keech, Larry (November 13, 1973). "Grambling: Black Man's Notre Dame". The Shreveport Times. p. 2-D. Retrieved December 16, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ a b c d e King, Wayne (June 5, 1977). "Pioneer Educator, 71, to Retire After Running Grambling U. for 41 Years". The New York Times. Retrieved December 10, 2021.
  8. ^ "Ralph Jones Named President of Negro Normal at Grambling". The Shreveport Journal. June 23, 1936. p. 6. Retrieved December 12, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ Fletcher, Joel L. (July 8, 1970). "Honors to Jones, Cusic". The Daily World. Opelousas, Louisiana. p. 5. Retrieved December 11, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ "Views Given On Status Change For Grambling". Monroe News-Star. July 10, 1974. p. 3-B. Retrieved December 13, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ a b c Thomas, Shanda (April 13, 1982). "Thousands pay final tribute to Jones". The Shreveport Journal. Retrieved December 11, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ a b c Goins, Adria (July 4, 2011). "Grambling's Jones inducted into Hall of Fame". KSLA. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  13. ^ "College Prexy's Wife Buried". The Pittsburgh Courier. December 19, 1953. p. 4. Retrieved December 12, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "Longtime Grambling President Dies". The Daily Advertiser. Associated Press. April 10, 1982. p. 1. Retrieved December 16, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ "Tech Awards Degree To Grambling Head". The Daily Advertiser. Lafayette, Louisiana. Associated Press. March 7, 1970. p. 12. Retrieved December 13, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "Grambling's Jones Awarded Doctorate". The Shreveport Journal. June 23, 1977. p. 3. Retrieved December 13, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "Class of 2011 Inductees | College Baseball Hall of Fame". MLB.com. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  18. ^ Morris, Kelly (July 13, 2009). "Legends of Grambling: School set to induct first Hall of Fame class". The Town Talk. p. 9. Retrieved December 12, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ "GSU renames baseball facilities in honor of duo". Monroe News-Star. May 7, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.