Dedication ceremony held at W.J. Jones and Son Funeral Home honouring its founders
Since early May, Don Jones has known something was happening at his funeral home on June 16.
It wasn’t until he arrived Friday morning, however, that he realized it was a dedication ceremony honouring himself, his father Irwin and his grandfather W.J. (William John) as founders of W.J. Jones and Son Funeral Home. The two arrangement rooms were named the Donald Jones Arrangement Room and the Irwin Jones Arrangement Room and the chapel was named the W.J. Jones Chapel.
“I first thought, ‘Do I need this? I really don’t need to be recognized,’ but everybody likes to be recognized and I’m quite OK with it,” he said. “It’s an honour to be recognized.”
Dayna Smith-Short, general manager at the funeral home, said dedicating the rooms and the chapel to the three Jones founders was an important act.
“We wanted to always ensure that the Jones family – Don, Irwin and W.J. – have always and always will be recognized as part of our history,” she said. “We’re very grateful to them. Without them paving the way, we wouldn’t be where we’re at today.”
The home first began on March 9, 1940. W.J. Jones came west from Perth, Ont. in 1905 with his family to Valour, a village west of Assiniboia. As a carpenter, he travelled to Moose Jaw for supplies and soon moved there. Irwin knew a few people working at a funeral home, which sparked an interest. When he approached W.J. with the idea, they decided to try their hands with funeral work.
In 1939, the pair acquired the building where the funeral home still stands, built in 1906.
Don grew up in the funeral home, as his parents lived in the suite above.
“I know every nook and cranny and pipe and electrical switch. So I just observed what was going on,” said Don. “I remember when I was a little boy … I was helping my dad and my granddad have funeral services in this area at that time. My job was to let people in the front door, the big old oak door, and so people knew the Jones’ at that point and they knew me.”
While attending Victoria Public School and then Central Collegiate, he helped out in various roles at the business.
“It wasn’t long into my high school years that I decided, ‘This is what I’d like to do,’” he said. “So after high school, I began apprenticing under my dad.”
He received his funeral director and operator license in 1966. While working, he abides by the philosophy of his grandfather – “Serve or do for others as you would like to see done for you if you were in the same, difficult position,” he said.
“Coping with a death is a difficult thing. First of all, family doesn’t want to deal with it and they don’t know how to deal with it. They don’t know what is involved,” said Don, “but once they come in and work with our staff directors, they soon learn there’s more to it than buying a casket and going to a cemetery.”
For Don, Friday’s dedication ceremony went beyond the renaming of the rooms and the chapel. It has remained a family affair throughout itsbentire operation.
“My dad and my granddad both arranged many, many funerals serving many, many hundreds of families of the Moose Jaw and surrounding districts,” he said, pointing to areas such as Dilke, Chamberlain, Central Butte, Tugaske, Chaplin, Mossbank and Cardross.
“It’s been an honour to serve all of the families that my granddad knew and my dad knew and I’ve come to know over the past 50-some years.”