Passing into history

Published 9:56 pm Tuesday, January 27, 2015

During the past week, Suffolk has seen one of its most well respected jurists elevated to a seat on the Supreme Court of Virginia and another elevated to his heavenly rest.

While news of the former event brought a measure of joy to the community, the news that Driver native William Wellington Jones, 93, had died on Sunday after several years of declining health brought sadness to the many people in Suffolk who had come to know him through the various roles he had played in the city.

Jones graduated from Chuckatuck High School in 1939. He received his bachelor’s degree and law degree from the College of William and Mary and also served for three years in the U.S. Navy, achieving the rank of lieutenant.

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He started a law practice in Suffolk in 1947 and became trial justice for Nansemond County in 1949. He served in that position until 1954. He later served as Commonwealth’s Attorney for Nansemond County for a number of years and was appointed to the General District Court bench in 1978, where he served until 1991.

He was widely loved and respected for knowledge and temperament he brought to the bench. But it wasn’t just his judicial work that made Jones such an important part of Suffolk during the late 20th century. He was active in the American Legion Post 57, the Tom Smith Camp No. 1702 Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Driver Ruritan Club and the Lions Club, among other organizations.

Jones was also a charter member and one of the first presidents of the Suffolk Nansemond Historical Society, and he had a love for local history — especially the history of his native community of Driver — that made him a fount of knowledge and an important resource for those who wanted to learn more about Suffolk and Nansemond County.

“Judge Jones was at his best when discussing the history of Driver,” friend and fellow Glebe Episcopal Church member John Norcross said. “He had a wealth of good stories, often humorous, connecting the present with the past.”

We are saddened to see him pass into the history that he so loved.