Aurelia lost a legend recently when Paul Jones left us at the age of 91. Paul graduated from Aurelia High School in 1934, then went on to college at Iowa State Teacher's College (now the University of Northern Iowa), where he played both offensive and defensive end for the Panther football team. In 1937, he was named to the Small College All-American team, and as far as I know, he is the only athlete from this area to ever receive that honor. In 1996, Paul was named to the UNI Athletic Hall of Fame, and his plaque and photo are on display with other Hall of Famers in the South Concourse at the UNI-Dome.
After he graduated from Cedar Falls, Paul went on to teach and coach at Spencer, Adair and Correctionville. He married one of the Correctionville teachers, Genevieve Ostergaard, in 1941, and enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1942, serving his country with honor and valor overseas during World War II. By the time he was discharged in 1947, First Lt. Jones had earned both the Bronze Star and Purple Heart.
That's not too bad for his first 30 years on this Earth, but Paul Jones would go on to accomplish a lot more in the next phase of his life. Returning to farm north of Aurelia, he and Gen raised a family of four - daughter Janis and sons Ron, Roger and Bruce, and while developing a successful farming operation through their good old-fashioned hard work and smarts, they managed to instill all those good qualities into their children as well. Paul was a fierce competitor, almost to his dying day, and anyone who has ever witnessed, or experienced first hand, any of his children in action - be it at cards, on the football field. the basketball court, the baseball diamond or running track/pole vault pit, knows that their father's competitiveness and spirit were passed down successfully. And though the Jones kids excelled, they were expected to work hard on the farm when they returned from school or practice.
Anyone who ever witnessed Paul Jones on the sidelines as a spectator knows that he and my uncle John Christensen, another outstanding Aurelia athlete of the 1930s, had to be two of the fiercest sideline participants ever, God love 'em.
I have been very fortunate to count the four Jones "children" as friends for virtually my entire life, and can tell you that competiveness, spirit and hard work are not the only good qualities that Paul and Gen instilled in their children (and grandchildren). All of the Joneses are also good, kind, Christian people, and I thank both Paul and Gen, who passed awayin January, for bringing these people into many of our lives. I also share the family's grief at the loss of their parents, as well as their joy at their parents' reunion in a better place.
I can't close, though, without this final observation. With all due respect to four people whose memories we love and cherish, I note that Paul Jones and my mother were classmates at Aurelia High School, and also dated for a time. I thank God for the introduction of Gen Ostergaard and Rex Whitney, my dad
(who died in 1999), into the lives of Paul Jones and my mother Lelia (who passed in 2007).
If that hadn't happened, there may have been a lot of great people who would never have existed ... or maybe strange combinations of all of us. Weird.
Rest In Peace, Paul.