Warwick Neck community members are celebrating the life and mourning the loss of the late Thomas Jones, a Coast Guard veteran who passed away suddenly at age 58 on Saturday, March 30.
In addition to numerous accomplishments garnered during his Coast Guard career, Jones lived for a time in the house adjacent to the Warwick Neck Lighthouse, where he resided with his wife, Pamela, from 2003 until the summer of 2009. His presence during his time in Warwick was clearly felt, according to those who knew him.
“He would just do anything for anyone. That's a rarity nowadays,” said Christine Harris, who met Jones through her daughter sharing a kindergarten class with Jones’ daughter, Madison. “Never a complaint, he always did things with compassion and grace. Those of us lucky to have known him knew his character and it was incredible and rare.”
Harris and Jones’s daughters are now in their 20s – Madison is attending the University of New Hampshire – but the friendship between the Jones family and Harris persevered and grew. As did a friendship between Jones and Cathy Martin, who met Jones in the same way that Harris did.
“He was just the kindest person,” Martin said in the shadow of the Warwick Neck Lighthouse – which was flying a flag at half-mast in honor of Jones. “He left a mark. They [Jones and Pam] mean the world to people around here.”
Joannie Hinman, whose children attended preschool with Madison, recalled Tom and Pam being benevolent hosts during their time living at the home next to the lighthouse.
"Tom and Pam were consistently generous, offering impromptu tours to those who swung by the lighthouse hoping to climb the circular steps to take in the sweeping view of the Bay and Ben Mondor’s fabulous grounds next door. Countless tours for neighbors, friends, bridal parties and, one day, even James Woods," said Hinman through an email. "Tom was a wonderful, accomplished, relentlessly humble and happy guy."
There were also stories of Jones being a quiet, steadying presence among parents in the Warwick Neck community – the kind of person who not only had the wherewithal to know what needed to be done, but also the perseverance and determination to actually get things done.
“Tom had a tremendous attitude,” Harris said. “Always the type of person who would be like, ‘Let’s just get this done.’
Thomas Warren “TJ” Jones was born on Dec. 20, 1960 to Kenneth and Ruth Jones in Kalamazoo, Mich. He graduated high school from Joppatowne High School in Joppa, Md. in 1979, and went on to attend the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in civil engineering. It was during a trip to Key West in 1982 that he would meet his lifelong partner, Pamela, whom he married on Sept. 1, 1985.
Following his undergraduate studies, Jones joined the United States Coast Guard and enrolled in their Officer Candidate School in Yorktown, Va., receiving his commission in 1984. Jones served for 33 years in the Coast Guard, attaining the rank of Rear Admiral and retiring on June 30, 2017. He earned a Master of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College, a Master of Public Administration from Old Dominion University and a Master of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois.
Jones’s accomplishments and assignments within the Coast Guard were numerous. His Flag officer assignments included: Director of Strategic Management of Doctrine, Director of Operational Logistics and the Deputy for Mission Support. His staff assignments included: Chief of the Office of Civil Engineering, Chief, Office of Budget and Programs at Coast Guard Headquarters, where he served as the principle advisor to the Commandant of the Coast Guard; Program Reviewer and the Acquisition, Construction and Improvements Budget Coordinator in the Coast Guard Chief of Staff’s Office; and Fifth Coast Guard District Civil Engineering staff.
Jones’s field assignments included service as Commanding Officer of the Coast Guard Research & Development Center; Commanding Officer of Civil Engineering Unit Providence; Project Manager at the Facilities Design and Construction Center, Atlantic; Facilities Engineering Officer at Integrated Support Command Portsmouth; Greater Antilles Section Civil Engineer and Industrial Manager; and sea tours in Coast Guard Cutters TANEY and INGHAM. After retirement, he served as the Director of the Cyber-Chief Information Officer-C4IT Transformation Program Integration Office. He then became a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES) for the Coast Guard and served as the Director of Hurricane Reconstitution.
Jones also received the Distinguished Service Medal, four Legions of Merit and three Meritorious Service Medals. He was also recognized as the Coast Guard Engineer of the Year in 2004.
“Of course, he would never have told you any of that,” Martin said, referencing his humility.
Jones will be interned at Arlington National Cemetery. He is survived by his wife Pamela, daughter Madison, parents Ken and Ruth, brothers Ken and Steven, nieces and nephews Keara, Casey, Graham and Kate, and many more friends and family nationwide.