Surrounded by the love of his family, and supported in spirit by so many close friends, John Timothy Jones passed away from complications of an autoimmune disease on May 7, 2020.
Born on Dec. 2, 1956, to James and Mary Ann Jones, John’s earliest years were spent playing baseball and picking crab apples near their family home on Pryor Lane in Billings. As a young man, he worked alongside his brothers in the family construction business. Together, they built the Jones cabin near Yellowstone National Park, which remains a cherished gathering place to this day. Taking great pride in his family and their work ethic, he carried the principles of a well-run jobsite to his future endeavors as a student, professional and patriarch.
Venturing outside Montana after high school, he attended Willamette University and completed studies abroad at the University of Munich. While at Willamette, he met the love of his life, Darla, and forever endeared her at the campus Sweetheart Dance in February of 1979. They traveled across the country while he pursued a law degree at the University of Puget Sound, followed by an LL.M. degree in taxation from Boston University. Even in their small Boston apartment, John and Darla began their way of life together as unconditional hosts to close friends and family.
Continuing his professional work, John clerked for the Montana Supreme Court in Helena. Then, in 1985, he began a long career at Moulton Bellingham PC in Billings, where his aptitudes were welcomed and his leadership encouraged. He loved his role and treasured the many professional and personal relationships he developed with his broad range of clients.
John’s community contributions were many: he was dedicated to the philanthropic work of the C.M. Bair Family Trust, and served on the Rocky Mountain College Board of Trustees. Over his life, he coached several athletic teams, and he was overjoyed when former athletes passed him in town with a “Hey Coach Jones.” One memorable summer, he provided a Little League team in a small Montana town with their very first set of matching jerseys — and together they even enjoyed a winning season. There wasn’t much in the world that gave John more joy than helping those around him succeed.
He and Darla raised two boys, Sean and Nathan. John encouraged his boys to find their own voice, and to consider the merits of opposing arguments. He was known to leave notes on the kitchen table, or letters on the boys’ bedroom dressers — through which he often imparted a kindness for humanity and a disregard for well-worn paths.
Lucky enough to welcome two grandchildren into the world — Henry and Isabella — he formed immediate and unique bonds with both of them, their lives forever enriched for having met Grandpa Johnny.
We remain amazed by his ability to bring excellence out of the people around him. The outpouring of support after his passing has been a testament to his love for others. Though he rounded the bases much too quickly, we find comfort in the assurance of him being home with the Heavenly Father.
He is survived by his wife, Darla; sons, Sean (Elissa), Nathan (Carolina); grandson, Henry; granddaughter, Isabella; siblings, Pati (Laird), Kathy, Jimmy, Greg, Jerry (Ann), David (Kelly), Danny (Kari); mother-in-law, Lori Davis; brother-in-law, Tim Deering; sisters-in-law, Debby Deering and Pam Davis. He is preceded in death by his father, James W. Jones; mother, Mary Ann (Koebbe) Jones; youngest sister, Teresa Link; father-in-law, Daryl Davis and nephew, Brandon McAllister.
A private family service will be held, followed by a celebration of life to be announced at a later date. Memorial contributions can be made to Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley, the AJ Blain Foundation, and Rocky Mountain College.