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Area businessman Cassity Jones dies

By Mike Elswick
Jan. 21, 2013 at 11 p.m.

Longview businessman and civic leader Cassity Jones died Monday at his Longview home. He was 94.

Best known in East Texas for the lumber company that carried his name, he had worked as a building contractor, developer, automobile dealer, grocer and wholesaler, among other pursuits.

Those who knew him said Jones was a caring but quiet and hardworking man who loved his family, friends and business associates.

"Cassity was one of the most even-minded men I've ever known in business," said Arliss Mallory, who had known Jones for years. "He was the perfect gentleman from the word go."

A testament to Jones' character, Mallory said, is reflected in his sons who are involved in the family business. "He was always a happy person, the kind of person you just liked being around because it made you feel better," Mallory said.

Steve Cole, a longtime friend and fellow member of First United Methodist Church in Longview, called Jones a "self-made man" who took on challenges head-on.

"He was a strong, strong family man who believed in his family first and foremost," Cole said. "Cassity was a strong Christian who had a work ethic you just don't see very often anymore."

Because of their proximity in age, Cole said, he and Jones would get together and trade stories about growing up during the Great Depression. Among those stories was how Jones helped pay his way through Texas A&M by getting up at 4 a.m. to milk cows.

"If I could pick a role model in life it would be Cassity Jones or someone just like him," Cole said.

The Cassity Jones family of companies includes Cassity Jones Lumber, Home Plus Floors, A-1 Rental, Winn Tile Co., and CJ Commercial. The companies have stores in Longview, Carthage, Tyler, Henderson, Marshall, Nacogdoches, Terrell and the Dallas area.

Jones was born July 26, 1918, in the Panola County community of Long Branch, to Lee and Jewel Cassity Jones. He graduated from Texas A&M in 1940 and served in the Army Air Corps during World War II.

It was in Panola County while teaching at Panola College that Jones saw an opportunity to build homes after World War II, as postwar demand spurred growth and development. Cole said Jones and his brother attempted to get the local lumberyard to give them a discount on lumber, because they were one of the yard's biggest customers.

"When they couldn't strike a deal with the local lumber dealer they went to the supplier and bypassed him completely," Cole said. That caused the retailer to refuse to sell anything to the home-building brothers because they were not buying their lumber from him.

That action led to the Jones brothers opening their own lumberyard, Cole said. It was in Carthage that Jones started various other business ventures that eventually led to his success across East Texas.

In recent years, the company has been under the leadership of Jones' sons, John Jones, Jim Jones and Jerry Jones, with other family members including grandson Jeb Jones.

Jones and his wife of 40 years, Claudette Cox Jones, have lived in Longview for 34 years and have been active in civic, social and charitable organizations. At First United Methodist, he served on numerous boards and committees including the trustee board and building committee.

Jones was a member of the East Texas Home Builders Association and the Texas Lumbermen's Association and was honored by the organization in 2000 as the "Lumberman of the Year" for the state.

He served on the board of the National Lumbermen's Association and traveled with the organization to meetings all over the world. He was a former member of the Carthage Chamber of Commerce, Carthage Club, Pinecrest Country Club, Cherokee Club and was a charter member of Longfellows and many other clubs and organizations.

Jones was chosen by the Carthage ISD Alumni Association for the "Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame." Panola College also honored him with a permanent plaque on the campus in appreciation of Jones' support and service to the college and community.

Funeral services were pending with Rader Funeral Home of Kilgore.



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