(ROYSE CITY, TX — March 7, 2019) Earlier this week, 82-year-old Royse City resident Barney Jones found himself sitting in an old red pickup next to a national celebrity, on his way to the most heartwarming reception of his life.
On March 5, Royse City welcomed famous TV host Mike Rowe and the rest of the crew from the Facebook Watch series “Returning the Favor” to celebrate Jones and all that he has given back to his beloved community. Residents and city officials gathered at Royse City Hall to surprise Jones with a recognition ceremony complete with a balloon arch and a performance by the Royce City High School Band. Rowe read aloud a proclamation recognizing March 5, 2019 as Barney Jones Day in Royse City, and unveiled a plaque naming the Senior Center after Jones in his honor. To commemorate his service to the community, the city also named the street off which the Senior Center is located Barney C. Jones Street.
Jones also received a check for $35,000 courtesy of “Returning the Favor,” a show which spotlights folks from around the country who go above and beyond in giving back to their communities.
Jones, who moved to Royse City in 1996 from Richardson after his wife passed away, has had a hand in many projects around the town. He fixed up a beautiful flower bed for the Royse City Chamber office and donated two wooden benches that sit on both sides of the Chamber office door. Jones volunteers at the Senior Center, greeting those waiting for their meals, serving meals to those who are unable to serve themselves, clearing up the tables of empty plates and taking out the garbage. You can occasionally catch Jones picking up trash along I-30 and other areas around town to keep his beloved community looking nice and clean.
Jones said one particular project he’s proud of is helping to get a cemetery marker for William Mantooth, a military veteran and the son-in-law of Alpha Cornelius who owned Tom’s Grocery Store in Royse City along with her husband. Cornelius was an 80-year resident of Royse City who passed away on March 31, 2009.
Jones, a U.S. Army veteran who served overseas, wanted to make sure Mantooth was honored for the service to his country.
“When I first came here, there was a little funeral sign for him and I said, ‘He deserves more than that.’ So I got to working with his wife and his daughter, and finally were able to get a picture of him to go up on the Hometown Heroes, and got Mr. Mantooth a marker out there at the cemetery,” Jones said.
Tuesday’s surprise recognition ceremony for Jones had him completely humbled, and he said he never expected to see so many folks come out in his honor.
“I’m fighting to keep from crying, because it’s very humbling,” Jones said. “It’s so wonderful to be appreciated in a town like this in the short time that I’ve been here.”
The ceremony will be aired in a future episode of “Returning the Favor” on Facebook Watch (date TBD at the time of this writing).
Story and photos by Austin Wells, Blue Ribbon News.
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