Cover photo for Richard Jones's Obituary
Richard Jones Profile Photo

Richard Jones

January 8, 1940 — May 29, 2024


Richard Jones

Paul Richard Jones, Sr., known to family and friends, and co-workers variously as “Richard,” “PR,” or “Parnelli” Jones, passed away at home on May 29, 2024, after a valiant struggle with leukemia. He was 84.


Richard Jones was born on January 8, 1940, in Kingsport the second of three sons of Olan Jones, Sr., and Evelyn (Swann) Jones. He grew up in Kingsport, graduating from Dobyns-Bennett High School in 1957. Because Kingsport City Schools in the 1940s started many students with mid-year birthdays in January instead of September, Richard found himself in a situation in which he graduated high school at 17 instead of the more common 18 years old. After completing high school, Richard attended North Carolina State University on a Forestry (paper manufacturing) scholarship for two years, from 1957 to 1959. At the end of those two years, Richard had a change of interest and began to pursue a career in Engineering, transferring to the college nearest to his heart, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. At Tennessee, he completed the degree of a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics in 1962. Beyond academics, Richard also became very active in the Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. He would cherish the fraternity brothers he got to know there, for the rest of his life.


Richard Jones would go on to lead a lifelong career in the field of Engineering, and that career would take him to some interesting and unexpected places. His first job was for Boeing Aircraft Corporation in 1962, leading him to be assigned to Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County, California. While there, he worked on the nation’s defense systems under a security clearance, even to the point of being locked down in a high-alert situation during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. From there, Richard transferred to another job with Boeing in Huntsville, Alabama, in 1963, working out of Redstone Arsenal and working on projects connected with the nation’s space program at the time. After two years at Huntsville, Richard found his way back home, transferring to Tennessee Eastman Company in Kingsport, in 1965. At T.E.C.-which would later be known as Eastman Chemical Company-Richard had a 35-year career as a physicist in the Engineering Division, eventually attaining the designation “Principal Physicist.” He would retire from Eastman Chemical Company at the end of 1999.


Richard Jones’s most treasured experience in his career involved an international assignment from Eastman Chemical Company to Spain for two years, for all of 1998 and 1999. While in Spain, Richard developed a strong interest and knowledge in the local culture and language. He made an effort to apply his free time there to traveling to various famous landmarks and cities in that country. In the years just after that, early in his retirement, Richard engaged in many family trips to Spain and other European destinations, including accompanying each of three grandsons to a European destination when each grandson reached age 10.


Any story of Richard Jones’s life would be vastly incomplete without mentioning the love of his life, Penny (Penland) Jones. Richard knew Penny Penland from the time she moved from Atlanta, Georgia, to the house across Pine street from him in Borden Mill Village in Kingsport in 1945, when Richard was a mere 5 years old. At that time, Penny was just one of a number of “girls and boys in the neighborhood” who played childhood games. It would come as a surprise to both, that this passing friendship would take a new direction when they became adults. During Richard’s time at U.T. Knoxville, he and Penny began a forever-together trek. They were married on June 5, 1961, and remained inseparable until death intervened just last week, one week shy of their 63rd anniversary. They enjoyed all their life’s experiences together, notably the sojourn in Spain 25 years ago. With love, their two children gave them a 40th -anniversary celebration with many in attendance at Meadowview in 2001.


For all of his life, Richard Jones was famous among family and friends for his sense of humor, love of life, love of Big-Orange Country, a loving outlook toward his family, a love of nature, and a love of animals. Anyone who knew Richard knew how devoted he was to Tennessee sports. Just as some people mark their lives according to the ­Farmers’ Almanac calendar, Richard marked his according to the U.T. football/basketball/baseball calendars. This was observable even in childhood, when Richard listened to George Mooney broadcast the football games on the Vol Radio Network. One particularly exciting event for him was to ride down to Knoxville with a family member in the 1956 season and watch a U.T. game in person. U.T.’s star quarterback in the 1956 season was none other than Johnny Majors.


Richard was a lifelong hiker and runner. Richard and Penny took trips just to go on hikes on the Bruce Trail in Canada, in the Green Mountains in Vermont, in the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and they went on various local hikes with the Eastman Hiking Club and friends to segments of the Appalachian Trail and various nearby destinations. Richard was an avid runner throughout his 30s, 40s, and 50s, going as much as 5 miles a day at the end, often with two of his beloved dogs to accompany him. As for animals, Richard’s family has always had dogs and some cats. In their retirement years, Richard and Penny turned more to cats, becoming active in rescuing and feeding a colony of stray cats for several years in the marshy brush where The Overlook at Indian Trail (apartments) is now located. Richard had the great good fortune to have a long, rich life and to have touched so many friends and family in his 84 years. He will nevertheless be unfathomably missed by all.


Richard was preceded in death by his parents, Olan, Sr. and Evelyn Jones; and brother, Donald Wayne Jones.


Survivors include his wife, Millicent “Penny” Jones; children, Paul Richard Jones, Jr., and William Penland Jones (Karen); grandchildren, Grant Joseph Jones (Carly), Connor Joyner Jones and Mason William Jones; great-grandchildren, Rhett William Jones and Beckham Joseph Jones; brother, Olan Otto Jones, Jr. (Sylvia); and several nieces, nephews and cousins.


The family will receive friends on Saturday, June 8, 2024 from 1:30-4:30pm at Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Home, Kingsport. He will be laid to rest at East Lawn Memorial Garden.

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Past Services


Saturday, June 8, 2024

1:30 - 4:30 pm (Eastern time)

Hamlett-Dobson Funeral Homes - Kingsport

117 E. Charlemont Avenue, Kingsport, TN 37660

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