By Cecily Markland
The Jones Family Continues to Put Family First
Family has always been a priority for Mabel and Willard LeRoss (Lee) Jones, members of the Udall Ward, Mesa Stake.
Family was at both ends of Brother Jones’ life’s work. He bought his father’s farm in New Mexico, added land to it, increased production, then, when ready to retire he, in turn, passed the farm to his sons.
He then moved to Mesa, “to work in the temple” and focus on the eternal work of binding families together.
Still, Mabel and Lee will be among the first to admit family life has its share of interesting twists and turns. Their union, in fact, is one even “blended families experts” may scratch their heads over.
Brother Jones was married to Elizabeth Ison for 30 years, and they had happily raised seven children together before she died.
“She had terminal cancer, and she told me, ‘I don’t want you to stay single. Find a good wife. Go see Mabel.’”
Mabel, then a widow, had been married to Lincoln Ison, Elizabeth’s brother. She bore 12 children, but lost two in infancy.
When Mabel and Lee did get together, it seemed natural and a little strange at the same time.
“Mabel and her husband and me and my first wife and kids had all camped together and gone to the mountains together several times.”
“Our kids were very close, but, the kids had been cousins, now they were brothers and sisters. She had been their aunt, and now …”
“But,” Brother Jones quickly says, “we made it work, and we have a very close family.”
Their “blended” family includes 17 living children, 96 grandchildren and more than 250 great grandchildren to date. It also includes a legacy of love for the Lord.
“We made the gospel paramount in our lives,” Brother Jones says.
He and Mabel served two missions together, one to the Pennsylvania Harrisburg Mission, one to Mexico City, where they worked in the area office training others to do extraction.
Among other callings, Brother Jones served as patriarch in three different stakes, including the Mesa Stake. Sister Jones has been a Relief Society, Young Women and Primary president, a teacher, pianist and organist. The first six or seven years of their marriage, while living in New Mexico, they served as temple ordinance workers, driving 200 miles to the Mesa Temple every week.
“It must have had an impression,” Mabel says. “Our children realized how important the temple was to us, and they all got married in the temple.”
The couple has continued regular temple attendance, in recent years, going every Tuesday to do initiatory work, as their health allows.
As involved as they were in Church service, however, “we had Family Home Evenings every week when our children were home,” Brother Jones says.
“We filled our home with family pictures, pictures of the Savior, things that radiate love and righteousness,” he continues. “We tried to show respect and love for our parents by the lives we lived, and we tried to impress upon our kids their responsibility to ‘Be true to who you are and the family name you bear.’”
They also brought music into their home. Sister Jones taught several of their own children and had as many as 40 other piano students at a time. He played harmonica and accordion, and they often were called on to perform together at ward socials and gatherings.
The Joneses are well aware, “We live with all kinds of evil today.”
“Satan is doing everything he can. His plan is to destroy the family,” Brother Jones says.
“He’s working extra hard right now,” Sister Jones agrees.
The Joneses fight back, continuing to have Family Home Evening in their home once a month with their married children who are still in the area.
“We have a spiritual thought, lesson, prayer and each family reports what they are doing and any achievements over the past month,” Brother Jones says.
They also use letters, telephone and emails and even learned to use FaceTime to keep in touch with family members.
“Our family is everything to us. Our family is our life,” Brother Jones says. “We show love to each other, love and consideration. That’s what has held us together.”