Former Lyons publisher dead at 77

Posted September 13, 2013

Paul Edward Jones, long-time publisher and editor of the Lyons Daily News and former four-term mayor of Lyons, died Sept. 12, 2013, at Hospice House in Hutchinson. He was 77.

Jones was born at the Lyons Hospital in Lyons on Oct. 2, 1935, the son of Samuel Horace and Mary Ruth Vermillion Jones.

He lived his entire life in Lyons, except for college years in Manhattan and Pittsburg, and his Army service.

He was a 1953 graduate of Lyons High School and was a journalism major at Kansas State College (now University), graduating with a bachelor’s of science degree in 1957. Before his K-State graduation, he spent one semester at Kansas State College, Pittsburg, studying printing. He also served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves.

He married Judith Ann Jones (also her maiden name) on Feb. 18, 1961, at Minneapolis, Kan. She survives.

The Joneses were parents, grandparents and parents-in-law of three daughters, Cynthia and husband RADM Jeffrey Penfield, USN, and Keegan Laessig of Mechanicsville, Md.; Bethany Prain and husband Craig and daughters Ellie and Caroline of Tega Cay, S.C.; and Meredith (Mimi) Ramsey and husband John and children Lauren and John Paul (J.P.) of Centennial, Colo.

Paul Jones became managing editor of the Lyons Daily News in January 1959, and several years later assumed the title of publisher, handling the business and management duties of the firm, while his brother-in-law, John Sayler, became editor. The paper evolved into a family affair, with Judy Jones joining the staff in a number of capacities, including fill-in for all front-office vacationing employees, and eventually Lifestyle editor; and his sister, Carolyn Sayler, as a writer and editor of the Associated Press wire.

He became very involved in community affairs, serving as president of the Lyons Chamber of Commerce in 1961, and first president of the Chamber’s public relations arm, the Ambassadors’ Club. He was chairman of a major 1980s Chamber downtown Christmas decorations rejuvenation project and was named the community’s Small Business Award recipient in the mid-1980s.

Jones was awarded the annual Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award in 1989.

He was chairman of the Christmas Bell and Star committee for more than 30 years, and founded the Bell and Star Foundation, which now provides financial support for many of the yearly expenses of the famous Christmas decorations. He played Santa Claus for many years, from private settings to riding on the back of the fire truck at the city’s Christmas opening.

He was elected mayor of Lyons in 1983, and served four terms, from 1983 to 1991.

He was a member of the board of directors of the Lyons Federal Bank since 1984, and was currently chairman of the board.

Jones served a number of years as a member of the board of the Rice County Community Foundation, was a past board member of the Lyons Town and Country Club, and with his wife, was a pre-school Sunday School teacher for the Lyons United Methodist Church, of which he was a member.

Professionally, he was quite active in the Kansas Press Association, serving on the board of the Kansas Press Service, a commercial arm, in the 1970s, and then becoming president of the parent Kansas Press Association in 1981. He later was the first KPA treasurer in that position after it became an appointed post for persons with past organization experience.

He was a member of the Kansas State University Alumni Association board of directors in the 1990s, and as publisher of a small daily newspaper teamed with a college friend, a publisher of a large weekly paper, to conduct one-day seminars for graduate students at K-State for approximately 10 years.

He and his wife were avid travelers, having been to all 50 states. His travels had taken him to five continents and 39 foreign countries, most recently to the Beaches of Normandy in France last November and to the Canadian Rocky Mountains in June.

He is also survived by a sister, Carolyn (John) Sayler of Lyons; a brother-in-law, Richard (Jean) Todd of Minneapolis, Kan.; and nieces and a nephew, including Lori Jones (Steve) Albert of Higganum, Conn., Dr. Catherine Sayler of Santa Fe, N.M., and David Sayler of Portland, Ore.; a step-granddaughter, Jennifer (Carlton) Grebe of Fullerton, Calif.; two step-grandsons, Jay Penfield of Fresno, Calif., and Scott Penfield of Lemoore, Calif.; and a step-great-grandson, Dylan Grebe of Fullerton.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Horace and Mary Jones, and a brother-in-law, LT George D. Jones, III, USN.

Visitation will be from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, 2013, at Birzer Funeral Home, Lyons, with family present from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Funeral service will be at 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, at the First United Methodist Church, Lyons, with the Revs. Bill Salmon of Salina and Brenda Davids of Lyons. Burial will follow at the Lyons Municipal Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Bell and Star Foundation, c/o Lyons Federal Bank, P.O. Box 58, Lyons, Kan. 67554.