A.V. Jones, Jr.
June 30, 1932 –
July 12, 2020
A.V. Jones, Jr., a pillar of the Albany, Texas, community and the independent oil and gas industry, died peacefully at home on July 12, following a brief illness. He was 88 years old.
The son of a West Texas wildcatter, A.V. Jones, Jr. started working in the oil patch as a young teenager. Over the course of his long life, he saw the ups and downs of the oil business from every vantage point – from the immediate experience of a gusher or a dry hole, from the excitement of running a thriving company in boom times and the challenges of making it through a bust, from the inside of U.S. politics and the outside of global markets. “I’ve worked two lifetimes,” said A.V., who could still be found working in his office until just recently. “Most people have a career for 30 or 35 years, but I’ve been in the business now more than 60.”
Born on June 30, 1932, in Wichita Falls, Texas, A.V. was ten weeks old when his parents, Alva Vance Jones Sr. and Nellie Ruby Jones, moved with their newborn to Albany. Except for his college years, A.V. Jr. lived in Albany the rest of his life.
He was a member of the First Christian Church of Albany, where he first served on the church board at age 12 when most of the adult men of the community were away in World War II.
As a fullback for the 1948 Albany Lions in his senior year of high school, A.V. was a significant factor in that team’s one-loss record. He earned the nickname “Goat” for the way he put his head down like a billy goat and charged forward. “A.V. was known throughout the area as Goat Jones, not just in Albany,” says his younger brother and lifelong business partner, Jon Rex Jones. “People knew him as a fine athlete and tougher than a boot.” A.V. also played football for Cisco Junior College.
A.V. met his future wife, Pat Lidia, on the football field where she was a cheerleader. He was 14 and she was 13 when they went to a school party together, and they were inseparable from then on. They were married Sept. 12, 1950, and celebrated 69 years of marriage last fall.
While still in high school, A.V. worked in his father’s oil business, Jones & Stasney, digging ditches and sitting on wells.
After he graduated in 1953 from the University of Oklahoma, A.V. and his father created their own company; they were soon joined by Jon Rex. A.V. Jones & Sons would become one of the most successful and notable independent oil and gas companies in Texas.
When their father died suddenly in 1965, A.V. Jr. and Jon Rex took over the company. A.V. brought to their endeavor a keen understanding of geology and an incisive mind for evaluating deals.
The “Jones boys” made their mark as developers of the oil fields in northeast Shackelford County and eventually expanded their oil exploration to the Gulf Coast, Colorado, Oklahoma, Michigan, and internationally.
A.V. was always proud of a 1973 front-page feature about the family business in the Wall Street Journal.
He was an early member of the All-American Wildcatters and a leader in the oil industry, serving as president of the West Central Texas Oil and Gas Association, the National Stripper Well Association, and the Independent Petroleum Association of America.
In those roles, he testified before the U.S. Congress several times, helped gain approval of the pivotal “Stripper Well Amendment,” and advocated for independent oil producers on national television shows, including two appearances on Good Morning America. A.V. remembered, “They wouldn’t attack me, because I was a nice, friendly, smiling guy from little Albany, Texas. Part of my charm was that I wasn’t quite as smooth as a lot of people expect an oil executive to be.”
With a smile that could rival the Texas sun, A.V.’s small-town charm was authentic. He loved his neighbors and took pride in creating jobs and opportunities for the people of his hometown.
A.V. and Jon Rex built the Jones family office building on Hill Street in Albany. Over the years, they also helped develop Albany’s downtown, the First National Bank of Albany / Breckenridge, and the Old Jail Art Center.
Devoted to maintaining Albany’s tight-knit and supportive community, A.V. could always be seen at local celebrations. He performed many times in the Fandangle and the Albany Nativity.
In 1962, he became the Albany representative to the West Central Texas Municipal Water District board, helping to develop and manage the Hubbard Creek Reservoir. He would serve many years as board president, and he only retired from the board in 2008, after 46 years of service.
Known as “Grandsir” to his grandchildren, A.V. loved seeing his grandkids grow up in Albany and Abilene, whether cheering on his only granddaughter as a Lady Lion or mentoring his three grandsons in the business of deal-making. He delighted in watching his great-grandchildren experience a Lions football game or their first Fandangle.
In his later years, he focused on investing in other people’s ventures and developing portfolios of investment funds for oil and gas deals. “When we tell about some of these deals,” A.V. explained not long ago, “people sometimes ask, ‘How did you figure that out?’ And I try to explain that it’s just about being here, day after day, reading a lot, and having experiences, and then having enough going on that you can act when you see an opportunity.
“We don’t have any special gift or instinct to see what’s coming. A lot of people can see it. But doing it takes moxie. You can teach a ten-year-old to do the mechanics of what I do. The part you can’t teach is the business insight – ‘I want that deal, I don’t want that one.’
“Now, there are things we can’t do because we don’t have enough money. We sure don’t have the kind of capital that Exxon has. But those Exxon guys don’t get to live in Albany. They don’t get to go to a Lions football game on Friday night or quail hunting after work.”
A.V. loved quail hunting and his bird dogs. It was always a good day when he could take friends and family out for a hunt on nearby ranchland. As a leader in quail habitat conservation, A.V. received the 2010 Quail Conservation Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Wildlife Association Foundation. And in 2013, he received the T. Boone Pickens Lifetime Sportsman Award from Park Cities Quail.
A.V. and Pat’s philanthropy also extended to the University of Oklahoma’s School of Geology and Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy. Most important to A.V. was supporting Albany institutions, including the public schools, Ben Richey Boys Ranch, Lions football, and the First Christian Church.
For the past 40 years, until very recently, A.V. could be found every Sunday morning teaching an adult Sunday school class to his fellow church members.
And every fall, A.V. and Pat could be seen cheering on the Albany Lions in their seats near the 50-yard line.
The Jones family wishes to express heartfelt gratitude to A.V.’s longtime assistant, Charlotte Taggart, for her years of dedication and many kindnesses, and to those who provided special care to A.V. in his last months, in both Hendrick and at home – Amy Folsom, Jerica Alexander, Jessica Bowman, Dr. Ferral Endsley and Dr.Keith Robinson.
A.V. is survived by his beloved wife; two younger siblings, Jon Rex Jones and Jean Jones Tucker; brother-in-law William Tucker; daughter Patti Jones (Gerald Cockrell); son K.C. Jones (Pati); grandchildren Jay Hardaway (Lindsay), Jacob Jones (Barrell), Zach Jones (Sarah Kate), and Madison Jones; nine great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He is pre-deceased by his sister-in-law, Ann McArron Jones, and by his oldest child, Van Jones.
Memorial gifts in A.V.’s name may be made to the AVJ Foundation, 850 N. 1st Street, Abilene TX 79604; or Rolling Plains Quail Research Foundation, 6065 Sherry Lane, Dallas TX 75225.
Arrangements entrusted to Girdner Funeral Home, Abilene, Texas. girdnerfuneralhome.org PD