Thursday, July 28, 2016

John M. Jones III, longtime E. Tennessee publisher and founder of newspaper chain, dies at 101

John M. Jones III
John M. Jones III, longtime publisher of The Greeneville Sun, a daily newspaper covering Greene County at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee, died Tuesday at 101. After graduating from Washington & Lee University and serving as an officer in the first American infantry unit to fight in Asia, winning the Bronze Star and serving as aide-de-camp to American and British theater commanders, Jones joined the Sun in 1945 as business manager at the request of his mother-in-law, Edith O'Keefe Susong, who was publisher from 1916 until her death in 1974.

Despite having no newspaper experience, Jones thrived as "a major force in local economic development and civic life from the late 1940s to the late 1990s," the Sun reports. "A former president of the Tennessee Press Association, Jones was also a former board member of what was then the American Newspaper Publishers Association (now the Newspaper Association of America). He served multiple terms as a member of the board of directors of The Associated Press. Jones was also an original member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and is widely regarded as the unofficial 'father' of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation."

"During the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, Jones played the primary leadership role in expanding the family's newspaper interests to include community newspapers in several other East Tennessee towns, including Newport, Athens, Dayton, Rogersville, Loudon/Lenoir City, and Sweetwater/Monroe County," where Jones was born and raised, the Sun reports. "The company has in recent years become Jones Media Inc., consisting of community daily newspapers in Greeneville, Maryville and Athens and non-daily newspapers in Newport, Rogersville, Lenoir City, Sweetwater, Dayton, and the High Country of western North Carolina, including Boone, as well as other media-related enterprises."

Survivors include his wife, Martha; sons John M. Jones IV of Greeneville, former editor of the Sun; Alex S. Jones of Charleston, S.C., and New York City, and Gregg K. Jones of Greeneville, head of Jones Media; two daughters, Edith Jones Floyd of Atlanta and Sarah Jones Harbison of Greeneville; and seven grandchildren. Alex S. Jones was the media reporter for The New York Times and director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University. Other obituary information is here.

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