Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the president of the United States and “Cactus” Jack Garner was the vice president of the United States on January 1, 1933, and 80 years ago today Ira and Dorothy Jones welcomed a new son into this world in Lamar County, Texas. Since their new son was born on January 1 and was the first child born in Lamar County, he was named Franklin after the president and Garner after the vice president who was from Texas. Franklin Garner Jones was born January 1, 1933 and he is and he was my daddy, and no son has ever been more proud of his father than me.
He was born in the middle of 13 children and you would wonder if someone in such a troop would be able to find their identity and their purpose in life. He not only found his identity, but he excelled and became leader of his family when his father passed away at the young age of 58. With brothers and sisters both older and younger he never demanded authority, they gave it to him. They never talked about him being their leader (rarely do real leaders have to flex their muscles in their family), but his love for family was so deep and their love for him was so rich that a whole platoon of generals – not a rank and file soldier among them among them – found a way to work together.
Franklin Jones was a builder of people, a builder of dreams, and a builder of destinies.
He instilled self-worth and love into all who met him who were facing the right direction and going the right way, and he instilled a measure of fear in those who were opposing him. Not fear of him personally, but fear that they might be opposing the God that he always stood for. He was so strong he could stand up for the underdog and call down the big dog and do it all with dignity and grace in the same setting. He won people to the Lord through his preaching and sometimes through his actions – one time he posed as the gardener at the church and won a family that became one of the bedrock families of the church. Even as I pen that story I’m reminded of the followers of Jesus who went to the garden to find His body and found a Gardener instead, so when daddy impersonated a gardener he was actually following in the steps of Jesus.
Eighty years have passed since God sent my daddy to the earth and five years have passed since God took him home. Yes, Bishop Franklin Jones would’ve been 80 years old today, but God stopped my daddy’s calendar and moved him into a residence where time is no longer measured and where the Lamb is the light.
Happy birthday, Daddy. I know you’re at home and I know you’re happy, but I sure miss you. I hope you can see us…the seeds you planted have really grown.