Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

William Bradford Jones Jr., 73, police officer who guarded celebrities

He was a track star whose ‘explosive start’won races.

WILLIAM "FOX" Jones had enough occupations to keep several normal people busy for a lifetime, including newspaper reporter, salesman, quality-control analyst in the pharmaceutical industry, police officer and sheriff's deputy.

But the job he liked best was dignitary protection in the police department. In this role, he was assigned to protect visiting figures of international prominence, government leaders, politicians, entertainers and anyone else who might have felt safe having a tough cop nearby while in the city.

The job began when he was assigned to protect Coretta Scott King, widow of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She must have felt well guarded because she recommended him to protect other family members when they came here.

Other dignitaries included South Africa's Bishop Desmond Tutu; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Rosa Parks, whose defiance of the discriminatory Montgomery, Ala., bus law sparked the civil-rights movement; Andrew Young, former congressman and United Nations ambassador; singers Melba Moore and Patti LaBelle; actor Danny Glover; and an array of local political leaders.

William Bradford Jones Jr., an outstanding athlete in his youth, a devoted churchman and loving family patriarch, died April 25 of complications of kidney failure. He was 73 and lived in Mount Airy.

He was born in Laurel, Del., to William Bradford Jones Sr. and Althea D. Green. He began his spiritual journey at Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Laurel.

After the family moved to Philadelphia, William was a track star at Fitzsimons Junior High School and Thomas Edison High School. He also played basketball and football. He participated in the Penn Relays.

When he went on to Delaware State College, he starred on its track team. His relay team was undefeated. He also ran track for the Philadelphia Junior Pioneer Track Club.

His family said it was his "explosive start" that made him such a speedy runner. The Union League named him Boy of the Year.

William also played softball for a team out of Jones Tabernacle African Methodist Episcopal Church for a time.

He earned degrees in human services at Delaware State College and Antioch University. He was a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, and was active in its Norristown chapter. He also was a delegate to the fraternity's Atlanta Conclave and the Pan-Hellenic Council.

Before joining the police force in 1974, William worked for Kraft Foods as tristate retail salesman and equal-opportunity representative, quality control analyst for Richard Pharmaceuticals, and crime reporter and sports editor for the old Philadelphia Independent, which billed itself as the "World's Greatest Negro Tabloid" before it went out of business in 1971.

On the police department, he also worked in the community relations and minority recruitment units. He was employed by the Sheriff's Department under Sheriff John D. Green.

He was a member of the Guardian Civic League, the organization of African-American police officers.

William joined Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in 1993. He became chief of security.

He married Brigitte Marcia Reeves-Jones in 1996. Besides his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Deneen Miller and Angela Haliday, and six grandsons. He was predeceased by another daughter, Cynthia Stukes.

Services: 10 a.m. today at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 419 S. 6th St. Friends may call at 8 a.m. A Kappa Alpha Psi fraternal service will be held at 9 a.m. Burial will be at Ivy Hill Cemetery.