Planning commissioner dies

Published 11:02 pm Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Suffolk Planning Commission member and longtime former teacher and principal died this week.

Sylvester Jones passed away Tuesday evening at Sentara Obici Hospital. City Councilman Leroy Bennett, who has known the family for years, said Jones had been on the Planning Commission for about 20 years and worked in the schools for nearly 40 years before retiring.

“He has really dedicated his life to Suffolk,” Bennett said during the City Council meeting Wednesday. “Sylvester will definitely be missed.”

Email newsletter signup

Jones started out as a teacher, then became assistant principal and principal, said his niece, LaVerne Weaver. He served at Kilby Shores Elementary School and John F. Kennedy High School.

“He just loved people, and he loved helping people,” she said. “He would actually go around and help the needy by giving food baskets, clothing, rides, anything.”

Jones also was chairman of the deacon board at his church, Balm of Gilead, and served on the pastor’s aid, missionary and ways and means ministries. He also was civic league president in his neighborhood.

Bennett said Wednesday that Jones’ wife had called to let him know he would not be attending Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting because he was ill. By the time Bennett was headed to church that evening, the ambulance was in front of the Jones house.

“They didn’t have any idea he was as sick as he was,” Bennett said.

Jones already was on the Planning Commission when Bennett was first elected to City Council in 1996, but he has reappointed him several times.

Other City Council members also honored Jones during their comments in the meeting.

“He has always distinguished himself by being a fair and impartial gentleman,” Councilman Jeffrey Gardy said.

Vice Mayor Charles Brown said he would always remember Jones for giving his daughter a ride to school every day when she got in a fight on the school bus and was not allowed to ride it for a week.

“We all know Sylvester was a very special gentleman,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson said.

Jones leaves behind a wife and other family members. A funeral is set for Tuesday.