Gulfport to remember Captain Jones at Friday ceremony - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport to remember Captain Jones at Friday ceremony

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The inscription beneath his statue in downtown Gulfport calls him, "the city's greatest benefactor."

Captain Joseph Jones will be honored and remembered Friday at a re-dedication ceremony for his monument, located in front of the old library.

Captain Jones joined forces with William Hardy to found the City of Gulfport.  But it was Jones who invested millions of his own dollars in the city they created.

Jones Park, the Bert Jones yacht basin, the Port of Gulfport; reminders of his influence are everywhere.

Beautification crews on Thursday spruced up the grounds around the Captain Jones monument, preparing for Friday afternoon's re-dedication.

Three sisters who are descendents of Captain Jones would love to see a tremendous turnout at the ceremony. 

They'd like others to know and appreciate the accomplishments of their great, great uncle.

"His history. The fact he spent his own money, millions of it, building the port and dredging the channel out to the gulf for all the ships to come in. And look how far it's come now. Wouldn't he love that?" said Grace Blackmarr Lebo.

The statue was first dedicated in 1942. Its location is no coincidence. Captain Jones looks out over the park named for his family, the port he founded and the yacht basin, named for his son, Burt Jones.

"He opened up the state from the north with the railroad, from the south with the port, to commerce and development that nobody else had the money to do," said Rosemary Finley.

He was a man of means with leadership skills and the vision to found a city. Still, this transplanted Northerner from Pennsylvania never lost his humility.

"He was such a down to earth man. He would be down on the ships overseeing the unloading and loading of lumber and products that came from all over the world to here. If he could see now what the port has become, I think he would be very gratified," said Finley.

Katrina's storm surge toppled Captain Jones from his granite foundation. The bronze likeness was meticulously restored by an expert from Dallas.

Family members invite everyone to help celebrate the statue's restoration and return.

"I hope they all enjoy it and have a good time and realize what it took to get this great city going," said Margaret Moran.

Captain Jones also built the Great Southern Hotel, the Great Southern golf course, a trolley line and the Gulfport Yacht Club.

Again, the public is invited to re-dedication ceremony, Friday afternoon at two.

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