Local school officials gathered April 24 to honor the late Steve Jones by planting trees in his memory at the Central Office.

Jones was associate superintendent of Jackson County Schools at the time of his Dec. 4 death.

School system personnel and Jones’ family planted three trees – a redbud, a dogwood and a Serbian spruce, around the Board of Education building flagpole. Family members on hand included Jones’ wife, Eva; sons, Jacob and Isaac; and county Commissioner Mark Jones, Steve Jones’ brother.

Jackson Paper donated the three trees as well as some 300 others for a county fifth-grade science field day event.

Steve Jones began his career with local schools at age 16 in 1977 as a bus driver, taking subsequent jobs as a teacher’s assistant, teacher, assistant principal at both Blue Ridge and Scotts Creek schools, and ultimately, as first assistant and then associate superintendent at the Central Office.

“Steve Jones wasn’t your boss, he was your friend,” former Superintendent Sue Nations said to school employees. “As you pass through this world, there are special people. Steve Jones was one of those special people. Everyone has a story about how Steve touched their life.

“He was a true friend, very loyal. He cared about every one of us,” Nations said.

Superintendent Mike Murray credited Jones with making his transition to that post a successful and smooth one. Murray became superintendent at the start of the 2011-12 school year.

“As a superintendent, as a leader of a school system you surround yourself with very good people or you’re not successful,” he said.

“I had a blessing in that I would not have made it my first year as a superintendent if God had not blessed me and put someone like Steve Jones – one of the best leaders – with me. I would have been unemployed by the second month, because I would have been overwhelmed.

“(Steve Jones) was a child advocate every day of his life,” Murray said.

Musician Jacob Jones played his father’s two, favorite songs during the ceremony.

All the speakers mentioned Steve Jones’ dedication to his job and said if he could see the ceremony, he would likely be wondering “When are you all getting back to work?”