Mervyn Jones, 54, of Wilmington, a TV and film writer, director, and producer, and a former Temple University professor, assistant athletic director, and public address announcer, died Monday, June 1, of cancer.
Although his multifaceted career in entertainment and academia featured many achievements, it was Mr. Jones’ ever-present friendliness and humanity that impressed people most. The words smile, humor, and passion are used often by those who knew him.
“I called him ‘Mervelous,' " said Scott Walcoff, a senior associate athletic director at Temple. “Because that’s what he was.”
“He was my best friend,” said daughter Jayna.
Mr. Jones worked on TV projects for national syndicated shows, started his own production company, and taught a course at Temple called Racism in College Athletics.
"He was the consummate professional and beloved by our entire community,” Temple athletic director Patrick Kraft said in a statement.
Mr. Jones was born in West Philadelphia to Catherine and Mervin Jones, and graduated from Central High School and then Temple with a degree in radio, TV and film. A high school quarterback and avid bowler, he was drawn to sports projects and first helped produce Greatest Sports Legends, a syndicated sports anthology series created by Penn Valley’s Berl Rotfeld, in the early 1990s. He then started his own production company, M.T. Pockets Productions Inc., with his wife, Andrea.
Mr. Jones returned to Temple in 1998 as an adjunct professor and the public address announcer at the school’s football and basketball games. It was then, as his booming voice and bubbly personality punctuated the action on the field and court, that Mr. Jones became a favorite of sports fans across the North Philadelphia campus.
“He had this way of making his voice go up and down dramatically,” Walcoff said. “He would say, ‘Touchdown! Temple OWLS!’ or, ‘Shizz Alston, one and ONE!’ You always knew it was him.”
Mr. Jones added the job of assistant athletic director in media relations at Temple in 2000 and then worked for Steve Rotfeld Productions in Bryn Mawr starting in 2004.
Known by friends and family for his entertaining voice impersonations of, among others, Elmo and Bill Cosby, Mr. Jones doted on his wife, daughter, and son Merven. Jayna recalls her father bringing her mother, whom he married in 1992 after meeting as Temple freshmen, her morning coffee and waffles.
Mr. Jones edited Jayna’s school reports and hoisted her onto his lap as he taught Sunday school lessons to teenagers at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Wilmington. He sang songs and told Jayna and Merven bedtime stories in his many voices. He took the children on errands all over Wilmington and delighted in finding bargains on sale.
“We were like peas in the pod,” Jayna said.
Mr. Jones often invited Jayna to Temple basketball games, and let her sit behind him at the announcer’s table. “I have pictures of me and my brother in Temple gear in our high chairs,” she said.
As an inexperienced middle school basketball player, Jayna recalled, her father directed her from the stands.
“I would look over to him when I got the ball, and he would tell me which way to go and whether I was on offense or defense,” she said with a laugh. “He was our mentor. His favorite thing was his family.”
In addition to his wife, daughter, son, and parents, Mr. Jones is survived by two sisters, a brother, and other relatives.
Services were private.