The last time Dwight Jones’ family saw him, he was doing what he enjoyed most: spending time surrounded by loved ones at one of the many parties they had together. This particular night, the family was sending off Mr. Jones' nephew, Malik, to his high school prom on June 10.
“He loved family events,” his cousin, Gail Page, said. “He was always genuinely happy to see everybody. He had this huge smile and this deep, booming laugh that would just fill the room. When he didn’t show up for that same nephew’s graduation, we knew something was wrong.”
Mr. Jones, of New Lenox Township, died Friday, June 10, 2011, . He was 59. The family went to his home in New Lenox Township following the graduation, on June 14, and found his body. Police investigated and .
He was born Oct. 16, 1951, in Chicago to MacClenzie and Gelener Jones. He moved to New Lenox Township, in unincorporated Mokena, 25 years ago, and was a bachelor with no children. But his family members said he was extremely close to them and helped raise others in the family.
His Aunt Clemmie Jones said Mr. Jones was like a son to her. They would run errands together, and once he even took his aunt on a Carribbean cruise. His mother said the same thing: After work downtown, Mr. Jones would often stop by for dinner or to take her out.
“He was always available to me any time of the day or night,” Clemmie Jones said, as relayed through Page. “At a moment’s notice he’d be at my door to take me somewhere or buy something to bring to me.”
He also took care of his mother, who he “treated like a queen,” his sister Mattie said. Another cousin, Adron Jones, said he always got brotherly advice from Mr. Jones, who also helped raise his sister’s children, Brian and LaTodsha. He was looked up to and respected by everyone in his family, and Page said he was an intent listener who would always make time for them.
Sometimes, Mr. Jones would give more than advice and help his extended family financially. Growing up in Chicago, his family didn’t have a lot of money, and as the second of four children he was determined to improve his life, Page said. He was educated in Chicago throughout his life, attending Beethoven Elementary School, DuSable Upper Grade Center, DuSable High School and Kennedy King College. He was a member of Christ Universal Temple in Chicago.
After school, he worked in the post office downtown for about 20 years while doing other part-time jobs on the side. He then worked at Roseland Community Hospital and most recently at Northwestern Memorial Hospital as an intake specialist.
“There were a lot of ways he helped people,” Page said. “But he did it under the radar. He would do things for people and you would never know. He didn’t broadcast it.”
Page said Mr. Jones saved his money and eventually invested it in real estate. He moved to the south suburbs for the peace and quiet, she said, and dreamed someday of getting a couple horses or starting a vegetable garden. In the time he spent at his home in New Lenox Township, he kept up his beautifully landscaped lawn and also purchased a grand piano.
Mr. Jones is survived by his mother; two sisters, Mattie and Darnell Jones; four nieces; five nephews, four great nephews; two great nieces; and one great-great-nephew; as well as a number of aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. His father; his brother, Moxie; his grandparents and other extended family died earlier.
He was buried June 23, 2011, at in Homewood. At the services, the family played Frank Sinatra’s song My Way, which was Mr. Jones’ favorite song and one Page said captured the spirit of his life.
“He just had an infectious personality and always worked hard, lived the way he wanted to,” Page said. “We don’t really have the words to describe how we feel, so we revert back to the last time we saw him at the family party.”