William A. Jones, 79, of Willow Grove, a skilled laborer for 25 years in the melting and casting division of the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, died Thursday, Aug. 6, of malignant mesothelioma at his home.
Born in Rocky Mount, N.C., Mr. Jones graduated from the Phillips/Bricks High School there. He came to Philadelphia in his 20s and lived in Cedarbrook for many years before moving to Willow Grove in 2007.
He earned certification for his work by completing metallurgy courses at Temple University, and then started his career at the Mint in the late 1960s, working from facilities in Center City. In addition to making coins and medals, he served as a union official and vice president of the Mint’s federal credit union.
Before retiring in December 1995, he worked for several years as a civilian laborer at the U.S. Naval Shipyard in South Philadelphia. He was a member of the American Federation of Government Employees.
“His motto was, ‘No job was too hard,’” said niece Tekecha Morgan. “He loved his work. He always took leadership roles. He loved people, so he loved the social aspect of it.”
He viewed the trajectory of his life as a “come-up” narrative, his niece said.
“Born in a small town in North Carolina where the education was limited, he came to Philly with the idea in mind of achieving his potential. It was a success story to be able to own homes and be an entrepreneur. He was proud of his accomplishments and definitely an inspiration to me,” his niece said.
In July, Mr. Jones was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs. It metastasized quickly.
In the early 1970s, he married Olivia S. Jones. He had a son, William Pitts, and a stepson, John Saunders.
Mr. Jones was friendly and outgoing. He enjoyed socializing, travel, and collecting big cars. In retirement, he liked to detail other people’s cars. Above all, he appreciated time spent with family. “He really enjoyed family reunions, connecting with cousins whom he grew up with,” his niece said.
He made a point to stay in touch with his high school classmates by becoming active in the Phillips/Bricks Alumni Association.
He liked cruises, including one he took in February just prior to the coronavirus pandemic. He toured Hawaii and the Caribbean, and then returned to his hometown in North Carolina, his niece said.
He enjoyed touring historic sites but also liked to stay home. “He was a proud, proud resident of Philadelphia,” said his niece.
In addition to his wife, son, niece, and stepson, he is survived by a brother and sister.
A viewing at 10 a.m. Friday, Aug. 14, will be followed by an 11 a.m. funeral service, both at the Decker Funeral Home, 216 York Rd., Warminster. Masks are required, and social distancing will be observed. Interment will be private.