There will never be another Garth Jones. Oh, someone may have his name but that is as close as it will get. He was born in Salt Lake City around midnight on February 24, 1925. The midwife asked his twenty year old mother, Sophronia, what day she wanted to put on his birth certificate as she was not sure if he was born before or after midnight. His mother said February 25, 1925 sounded good and so he lived a long life of accomplishments and adventures from February 25, 1925 until his passing on July 1, 2020 from a stroke at the age of ninety five. He was fortunate to be active and maintain all of his mental abilities until he became sick on June 27, 2020 when he complained of dizziness. Garth was buried in the Heber City Cemetery next to his wife of sixty years, Marie. The burial took place on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 at 11 am. Because of the pandemic a limited service was held outside near the burial site.
Garth was born to an alcoholic father, H.H. Jones (dob-1875) and a young, unsophisticated but loving mother, Sophronia Nell Nielsen (dob-1904). In early September of 1934 H.H. Jones walked away from his wife, Garth and a younger daughter, Helen. These were depression times and Sophronia would work as a maid cleaning houses. The family slept on used newspapers for mattresses in the attics of homes on the avenues. Quoting from Garth’s book In the Shadow of the Tall Mountains, “I felt the great pains of insecurity and was often haunted by empty feelings, bordering on nothingness. It took many years to heal the psychological wounds inflicted during my first years of memory. When you are five years old and leave the table hungry and go to bed hungry, and wake up in the morning sick with hunger, you never quite forget the pains of hunger. Mother sometimes would take a quart of milk and make it two quarts by adding water. There was no magic in this operation, even in a child’s eyes. It was still only one quart of milk”.
When he was nine years old his mother got a job as a hired worker for a widower, Ralph DuBois, and his family of four sons. It was on a farm in rural Utah in a town called Fairfield. His mother married the widower and so Garth was now a farm boy. The family's twenty acre farm would produce only the bare minimum of necessities. Garth’s growing up on the farm was one of constant labor—milk the cow, feed the pigs, herd the sheep, chop wood, gather eggs, plant and harvest crops and so on.
Garth attended a one room school house built in 1898. Today that school house is preserved as a state historic site.
Life in Fairfield was harsh. The family was very poor. His underwear were made of old flour sacks. The brand of flour had a large red star as its symbol. Usually the red star ended up right on the buttocks area of his underwear. He was given the nickname of Finkle or Fink for short. Years later, he would be called the Cedar Valley Whiz Kid!!
When Garth or Fink got a chance he would go hunting. One fall day he and his step-brothers and friends were packed into a truck to go hunt pheasants when a 12 gauge shot gun accidentally went off only inches away from him. The blast ripped through his red star underwear and blew off a chunk of his buttocks and a large part of his calf muscle. This was 1937 and he was 12 years old. Such an injury in those days was usually fatal. There were no antibiotics—only iodine, alcohol and carbocyclic acid. The pellets were removed without anesthesia. He survived, but when he had his hip replaced about ten years ago the doctor found lots of pellets that were never taken out. Garth had grit. An article recently reported that grit is a more accurate predictor of success than any other quality. Grit is passion for long term goals. Perseverance. Stamina. Working really hard to make the future a reality.
After graduating from Lehi High School in 1942 his step-father wanted him to stay on the farm and discouraged him from going to college. Then a miracle happened in the form of a Sears and Roebuck scholarship for one hundred dollars. With that money Garth went to the AC [Agricultural College] or what is now called Utah State University. After graduating from the AC in 1947 with a B.S. Degree, he received his M.S. In 1948 and his Ph.D. From the University of Utah in 1954.
In 1950 he met and married Marie Clegg. They met on a blind date. Garth was 5’ 8” tall and was a skinny 130 pounds. Somehow he managed to persuade Marie to marry him but first he had to ask her father, Luke Clegg, for his permission. Luke was a prominent person in Utah County. He was a successful businessman and a state senator. A staunch Republican. Garth approached Luke and the conversation went something like this: Luke, “What is your profession”? Garth, “I’m a student”. Luke, “How are you going to take care of my daughter”? Garth, “I have a part time job”. Luke, “Did you go on a mission”? Garth, “No”. Luke, “Are you a member of the church”? Garth, “Kind of. I was baptized and my family knew Joseph Smith”. By this time Luke Clegg was getting very frustrated and he blurted out, “Are you a Republican!!!” To which Garth could only say, “If you want me to become one that is fine with me”. Garth and Marie were married for over sixty years until Marie passed away in 2010 at the age of eighty-nine.
Dr. Jones became a prolific scholar and author and has published over 200 articles, monographs and books covering topics in public policy and comparative administration with focus on Pakistan and Indonesia, as well as numerous articles on Mormon history and culture.
Dr. Jones has devoted nearly his entire career of some six decades as a practitioner-academe in the area of public policy and international development. He has spent considerable time in the Pacific Basin, Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia. As dean of the school of business and professor at the University of Alaska, Anchorage he worked closely with the municipality of Anchorage on management and budget issues, and served as a member of the board of directors of the Alaska World Affairs Council.
Dr. Jones held positions on several University faculties in the United States including Brigham Young University, the University of Southern California where he was professor of the year in the school of public administration, Colorado State University and the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Outside the United States Dr. Jones held faculty positions at University of Gadja Mada in Jogjakarta, Indonesia; University of Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan; and national Cheng Chi University, Taipei, Taiwan, where he was a senior Fullbright scholar. He was a visiting fellow at the academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan and senior scholar at the east-west center, Honolulu, Hawaii.
During his overseas years he had many exciting adventures. In 1965, while living in Pakistan, our family took a trip and traveled through the high mountains to Kashmir. En-route convoys of military trucks passed us. We returned to Lahore, Pakistan after a week in this exotic place and two days later a large scale war broke out between India and Pakistan over the disputed territory of Kashmir. Garth survived the seventeen day bombardment of Lahore. He also survived the communist uprising in Indonesia and many other hazards of living in third world countries in the 1950’s and 1960’s. One of the most dangerous hazards of living in these countries was eating the food and drinking the water. It was always contaminated with “bugs”. Garth drank copious amounts of hot tea to keep healthy. He figured since the water was boiled it was safe and the tea acted as a medicament. Most of the time he was right but there were some eventful times when the “bugs” defeated the power of tea. Out of respect for Garth those times will not be recounted here. In Christmas of 1968 our family took a safari through East Africa. We traveled in our rented VW bus with no guides. Garth was the driver and we would stop and sleep in the bus wherever. One night Marie called out, “Garth there are elephants here!! Put on the emergency brake!!” Like that was going to do any good.
He is the only member of our family to letter in sports in college. While at the AC, he ran the 440 and 880 yard races. Years later his valuable letter sweater with the big A was stolen in Pakistan. Garth also liked to play squash, racquetball and ski. One day he was skiing on mount Alyeska in Alaska when the wind chill dropped the temperature to minus 70 F. He decided it was time to get off of the mountain.
In 1973 Garth and Marie drove their Ford Pinto from New York City where Garth was working for the United Nations to Anchorage, Alaska where he resumed his academic career. His days of wandering the world were mostly over. For the next 25 years he spent most of his time at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He became a real Alaskan—catching salmon, hiking mountains, portaging canoes, swatting mosquitoes, enjoying the spectacular scenery of Alaska and never complaining about the cold or darkness. He was convinced that through hard work he was going to turn the University of Alaska, Anchorage into the Harvard of the north.
He was very proud of his family. His beautiful wife, Marie, had a fantastic personality and was always up to new adventures. She made a wonderful, happy home. Friends were always welcome at the Jones residence. His three sons, Edward, Kevin and Drew were great companions and were always amazed by his intellect and work ethic. Kevin and he lived together after Marie died ten years ago. He enjoyed visiting with his daughter-in-law, Yun, who cooked many delicious meals for him. He especially enjoyed her hot and spicy Chinese dishes. His five grandchildren were a great source of pride—Matthew, Dolly, Sonny, Luke and Duke. In his old age Duke and he became “best buddies”. Every day he would see Duke or talk to him on the phone. His last coherent sentence is when he saw Duke and said, “He’s my buddy”.
How was a boy born in poverty during the great depression and who lived in a remote town doing farm work and attending a one room school house ever able to achieve so much? Who would have thought that he would go to college, get a Ph.D., see the world, meet and counsel with ambassadors, senators, governors, college presidents, kings, sultans, cabinet officers, and generals? He would be honored as a distinguished alumni by the University of Utah, and Utah State University, and would be an honored professor emeritus by the University of Alaska, Anchorage. He would be generous and establish scholarships at all three universities and also Brigham Young University. From poverty he became affluent with a nice Merrill Lynch portfolio. How did this happen? The Garth Jones’ formula follows the American dream. He outworked everyone. Work hard. Never quit. Get an education. A valuable education. Not some flunky degree. Be a patriot. Be a proud American. Remember that your ancestors first came to America in 1640 and seven of them fought in the Revolutionary War including Hezekiah Murphy who was at the battle of Yorktown when the British were defeated. Incredibly, Garth is a direct descendant of Thomas Jefferson. His relative married Jefferson’s nephew. Follow the gospel of Jesus Christ. Do good works. Take care of your family. Because Garth’s father had deserted him he was always very concerned about the welfare of his family and considered it a responsibility to take care of them. Garth’s ancestors, Lorenzo and Aaron Johnson, were with the Prophet Joseph in Nauvoo. Joseph crossed the Mississippi River in Aaron Johnson’s leaky boat with Porter Rockwell bailing out the water to escape the mobs just days before Joseph was killed in Carthage on June 27, 1844. I find it ironic that Garth suffered his stroke on June 27th. When we were overseas most of the years we were the only LDS family in Indonesia or Pakistan. Our family would hold church and any friends who may be visiting would also come. Many friends and visitors were Muslims, Jews, Catholics or Protestants. Therefore, Garth would teach from the Old Testament as it is scripture to all different religions.
There will never be another Garth Jones. The world has changed. We can’t turn the clock back but we can remember him and the things that he did to influence our lives. I wish I could hear him say to Duke, “He’s my buddy”.