Roger D. JonesMarch 31, 1928 ~ August 2, 2017 (age 89)
Roger D. Jones of Youngstown, entrepreneur, artist, poet, playwrite, actor, director and all-round renaissance man, but most of all a loving, generous husband, father, grandfather and friend passed away at his home on Wednesday afternoon, August 2, 2017, surrounded by his loving family. He was 89.
Roger was the youngest of three children. Born on March 31, 1928 to the late William John and Gladys Gedge Jones of Buffalo, NY.
Roger was 16 when he graduated from the Buffalo area school system. In order to earn more money for college after graduation he worked on the ore boats on the Great Lakes and their related steel mills when ice stopped shipping. Despite the fact that the spike in inflation at the end of WWII lowered the worth of his earnings, he went on to graduate with a BS in Engineering and a major in refractories from Alfred University, the leading university in that field and the only NY State University at that time. He received a grant to work on highly heat resistant ceramics for Corning Glass which were then used as the outer covering of the rockets that carried the astronauts into space.
When the grant ended he volunteered for the army. Ending basic training school as a sergeant, he went on to OCS (Officer's Training School), graduating in the top 5% of his class. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and sent to Korea to lead a platoon that was deployed to work ahead of the front lines to clear paths through minefields and lay down smoke screens so the troops could advance. Promoted to First Lieutenant, he received numerous commendations and a Bronze Star Award for Heroic or Meritorious Achievement.
When he returned to the U.S. he worked for several manufacturing companies in the Philadelphia area before returning to Buffalo to work at Bison Refractories. He met and married Gloria Olson who was changing from ethical drug research to cancer research at Roswell Institute.
He was offered a job as head of research and development, his favorite field, at New Castle Refractories. Two years into that job Roger and his wife decided they'd be happiest with starting their own company. His wife began "tightening their belts" and saving while Roger worked on developing new mixes and techniques, first in their basement and then in a rented garage. Having found their first customer, Falcon Foundry, they were ready to rent a building and buy real rather than make-do equipment. Thus was the founding of Fireline, Inc.
Because of Youngstown's reputation of having a fine workforce, proud of making an excellent product, they moved to Youngstown and incorporated in 1967. When the steel plants began to shut down and the United Steel Workers began to organize small manufacturers, Roger did not make any attempt to stop them.
With innovative equipment and materials and the union, Fireline, Inc. has grown to 107 employees and has customers in the USA, Europe and Asia. The chosen niche market is supplying investment casters of turbine blade for aerospace and land or ocean based energy production.
When time came for the Joneses to retire, in order for Fireline, Inc. to retain a presence in Youngstown and retain the union, the decision was made to become an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) with employees owning 30%. When Roger retired in 2005 as president he still worked, returning to his roots in research and development until 2009. In August of 2005, Roger posted the following note in the plant: "I sent this note to everyone several years ago, and now that we have expanded the way we have, I thought it would be worthwhile to reissue it, slightly modified. - Everyone must listen attentively to everyone else. Often, we'll agree with each other, but there will be times when we disagree. That's normal for the vibrant group we've accumulated. Don't be afraid to be wrong and don't be afraid to be right. Focus on the problems. Compromise if there is good reason for it. Remember, we are all rewarded by growth and positive change. We'll all get credit together, and share the sense of accomplishment. - Roger Jones, Founder of Fireline. Inc." Roger built Fireline, Inc. on the belief of fairness, rewarding any job well done and creativity. A second generation has join the first in working together at Fireline, Inc.
Roger wrote poems, plays and sketches to earn money in college, and since then for friends and organizations. His poems have appeared in the Pig Iron series of free-lance popular culture compilations and Young's Town, a living history about the region. Five of his one act plays were presented at the Unitarian Universalist Church where Roger was and active member, one at Pittsburgh's New Playwrite series, and three at the Rust Belt Theater. Roger also had a deep interest in painting and sculpture. His sculptures are in over two dozen collections, including the Butler Art Museum, Ohio Living Park Vista, and two of the former Edward J. Debartolo Corporation malls in Florida. Roger also sat on numerous boards throughout his life, Planned Parenthood, Mental Health, and various committees at Youngstown State University. In his spare time, Roger liked working on his garden, golfing, stamp collecting, and spending quality time fishing with his son. He was very skilled at and won numerous awards at the Art of Fencing. Most importantly he and his wife loved traveling. They traveled to every continent and to over 90 countries and 40 islands.
Roger and his wife, Gloria, supported education through endowed scholarships, and gifts to individual students at YSU. When the Children's Museum was failing, they both mentored and underwrote the transition and made major contributions to OH WOW! and its endowment fund.
Roger is survived by his wife, Gloria Olson Jones, whom he married November 2, 1957; a daughter, Rachel Jones Wimer of Sloatsburg, NY; a son, David (Judy) Jones of Canfield; 5 grandchildren, Elisabeth & William Phillips-Jones, Zachery, Dylan and Isobel Wimer.
In addition to his parents, Roger was preceded in death by a sister, Betty Williams; and a brother, Paul Jones.
A special thank you goes to his caregivers - Doreen, Andrea and Joyce.
Friends and family may view the obituary and send condolences by visiting www.NicholasFuneralHome.com.
Memorial contributions can be made in honor of Roger to OH WOW! 11 W. Federal St., Youngstown, OH 44503
A Celebration of Life will take place on Tuesday, August 8, 2017 at 2:00 p.m. in the Chapel of Ohio Living Park Vista on Fifth Ave. Family will receive friends following the service.
A Celebration of Life will take place on Saturday, August 26, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. in the Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, 1105 Elm St., Youngstown, OH 44505. The family will receive friends following the service.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the Wm Nicholas Funeral Home & Cremation Services LLC, 614 Warren Ave., Niles, OH 44446