Born in 1925, Willie Jerry Jones Sr. owned and managed the Willie Jerry Jones Insurance and Bonding Agency for over four decades. His businesses provided life insurance and bail bonding services to many in the Black Huntsville community. Growing up in Huntsville, TX, he attended the local high school for non-Whites, Sam Houston High School. He participated in many extra-curricular activities, academic and athletic. Then, in 1943, he both married and left for service in the US Navy, serving in Pearl Harbor. After he returned from leave, he owned and operated a barbershop on Avenue M. Next, he worked at the Atlanta Life Insurance Company for 14 years, before opening his own insurance company. [3] [4] [6]

However, his economic achievements pale in comparison to his social/political achievements and endeavors in service of his community. He helped lead the desegregation movement in Walker, and in 1961, became president of the first local chapter of the NAACP in Walker and Trinity Counties. Under his tenure, the Walker County Courthouse facilities, several local businesses, the city hospital, and Sam Houston State Teachers College desegregated. In about four years, almost all of the county removed public segregated spaces. He served as President for over 20 years. For his work and the work of the chapter, he and his wife Mary went to the inauguration of President Lyndon B. Johnson, and Governor John B. Connally. Speaking of politics, Jones was the first black candidate to run for a county office in Huntsville. He won the Democratic primary election for county commissioner in 1964 but lost in the runoff by only 52 votes. The Huntsville City Council, Alpha Phi Alpha, and the St. James United Methodist Church, among others, awarded him bountifully. Jones, with the help and co-partnership with his wife Mary, helped better not only the Black society but the greater local society. [1] [2] [5] [6]

Audio

Interview of Richard Watkins Dr. Richard Watkins is an award-winning fourth-generation Huntsville native, veteran, and philanthropist, who frequented "The Drag" business district growing up. Date: November 08, 2019

Images

Willie Jerry Jones Sr. and Mary B. Jones Picture of Willie Jerry Jones Sr. and his wife Mary B. Jones in their adult years. Source: Walker County Genealogical Society and Walker County Historical Commission. "Jones, Willie Jerry, Sr.," in Walker County, Texas, A History. Dallas TX: Curtis Media Corporation.  Date: 1986
Picture of Willie Jerry Jones Sr. Picture of Willie Jerry Jones Sr. in adult years. Source: Lede, Naomi W. Pathfinders: A History of the Pioneering Efforts of African Americans Huntsville, Walker County, Texas. Huntsville--Walker County, Texas: African American Documentary Committee and the Walker County Historical Commission, 2004.

Location

1215 Avenue M, Huntsville, Texas 77340

Metadata

Yhaz Mhih Nhay Toliver, “Willy Jerry Jones Sr.,” East Texas History, accessed December 4, 2022, https://easttexashistory.org/items/show/294.