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Dr. Billy Mac Jones, President, Memphis State University, 1973-1980

Dr. Billy Mac Jones, who served as the eighth president of the University of Memphis, died October 27, 2007, at age 82.  Dr. Jones’ tenure at Memphis State University, as it was then known, was marked by strides in community outreach; extensive continuing education programs were established, and advancement and alumni activities were expanded.  In recognition of his leadership in those areas, the building housing the University’s Advancement Division offices was named for him in 1998.

Dr. Jones was born in Abilene, Texas, on April 5, 1925, the younger of two sons born to Andy and Faye Barton Jones.  He moved to San Angelo, Texas, for his freshman year in high school, and after graduation, he attended San Angelo College, where he earned the Junior College All-American Honors as a football player.  He joined the Navy, and at the end of World War II, he returned to San Angelo College.  At mid-term he was recruited by Vanderbilt University and awarded a football scholarship there.

He married Doris Jane Hudson and transferred to Vanderbilt.  There he was inducted into the Tennessee Football Hall of Fame.  He graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1950 and entered George Peabody University where he received his Master’s degree.  He coached basketball at Hillsboro High School for four years, then moved to Middle Tennessee State University in 1954, where he taught history and coached.  He then moved his family to Texas A & M where he coached football.

In 1959 he joined the faculty at San Angelo College, where he remained until moving to Lubbock, Texas, to pursue his Ph.D. degree from Texas Tech University.  In 1963 he returned to San Angelo State as chairman of the History Department and dean of students.  While there, he was named the Minnie Stevens Piper Professor of 1967.

During 1967-68 he was on leave to the University of Colorado for one year’s post-doctoral training, where he participated in an academic internship to prepare him for college presidency.

In 1969, he left San Angelo State University to serve as the fifth president of Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos.  He remained as president there for three years before moving to Memphis, where he served as president of Memphis State University for eight years.

After retiring from Memphis State University, he moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he taught in the College of Business Administration at Wichita State University, holding the Chair of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management from 1980-1992.  While there, he authored many biographies of entrepreneurs as well as several textbooks.  In total Dr. Jones wrote 22 books as well as many chapters in other history books.

Dr. Jones was a lifetime member of the Johnson St. Church of Christ, and except for the years he lived elsewhere, he attended this same church since he moved to San Angelo as a young teenager.

Preceding him in death were his wife of fifty-one years, Doris Hudson Jones, one son, Dr. Russell Jones, his father, Andy Jones, mother, Faye Barton Jones, step-mother, Laverne Jones, a brother-in-law, Ken Moore, and his brother, Ellis Jones.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy (Gay) Jones, a friend from his youth whom he married in 2002, and their shared children: Jeff Jones, Scott and Jill Jones, Woodrow and Andalyn Jones, one daughter-in-law and her husband, Tammy and Darrell Sargent, Ron and Beverly Gay, and David and Joy Gay, an aunt, Ida May (Sook) Griffin, a sister-in-law, Barbara Jones, a sister in law Judy Moore, and their shared grandchildren: Kim Hendershot and husband, Matt, Andrea Jones, Brittney Jones, Matthew White, Ryan Jones, Billy Jones, Ellison Jones, Chris Jones, Allison Jones, Elizabeth Jones, Casey Gay and wife Claudia, Bethany Bucher, and husband Josh, Ashley Gay, Kim Torres, and husband, John, Jenny Stallard, and husband Chris,  and Jonathan Gay, plus five great grandchildren, and  many cousins, nieces and nephews.

Pallbearers are his grandsons. Services will be held in San Angelo, Texas, on Monday, October 29, 2007, at 2 p.m. at the Johnson Street Church of Christ with Dr. Tommy King officiating.  Interment will follow with graveside services in Colleyville, Texas, on Tuesday, October 30, 2007, at 11 a.m.

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Last updated: 03/20/2008 15:56:22
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