SEBRING - Yes, 1943 was a very interesting year:
General Dwight Eisenhower was selected to command the allied armies in Europe after President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill conferred in Casablanca on World War II strategies. Just about everything from shoes and butter to metals and gas was rationed in the U.S. as all energy was focused on the war effort.
Jimmy Durante and Garry Moore were radio celebrities and a young singer named Frank Sinatra made his debut on a radio show called, "Your Hit Parade." On Broadway, the musical "Oklahoma!" was a hit.
And, Richard Jones married his Mount Union College sweetheart, Ruth Thompson. Both Alliance natives, Dick and Ruth have resided at Copeland Oaks for the past seven years.
Richard and Ruth Jones celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary with a gathering of family and friends on May 4 at the Williamsburg Lounge.
Family traveled from coast to coast to Sebring as all of the Jones' three children and 10 grandchildren attended the celebration. "We have room for six to stay in our villa and, I think, we have reserved most of the guest rooms at Copeland Oaks for the weekend," said Ruth of plans for the festivities.
Ruth reminisced about the first time she and Dick met: "It was 1940 when I was a senior in high school and Dick was a student at Mount Union College. He attended a dance with a friend of mine who introduced us."
After graduation, Ruth attended Mount Union College. It was when Dick was a sophomore and considering a date for the annual Homecoming dance that he remembered his chance meeting with Ruth who was a freshman. "He asked me to the dance, but I was on crutches because I had sprained my ankle in a fall at the gym. I was so afraid I would not be able to go, but it healed just enough for me to attend the dance," she recalled.
Two years later, after Dick had completed his studies at MUC, they were married. "It's hard to believe now, but I bought a beautiful wedding dress at Crawford's Women's Shop in Alliance for $25," Ruth chuckled. Ruth's sister, Christine George was maid of honor, and Dick's friend, Bill Fiegenschuh, was best man. Dick's twin brother, Robert, was serving in Alaska.
With his chemistry degree in hand, Dick went to the Ohio State University to learn how to make explosives for use in WWII. He was employed by U. S. Rubber Co. and supervised production of TNT. Dick was assigned to the plant in Williamsport, Pa. "After our wedding, we spent two days in Pittsburgh for a honeymoon on our way to Williamsport," remembered Ruth.
She noted that the post-war shortages made life "difficult." She described the newlywed's first apartment as three rooms in the upstairs of an older house in Williamsport. "There was no kitchen, so I had to wash dishes in the bathroom sink and I had one shelf to store food in the landlady's refrigerator down stairs. Of course, there were no cars available and you couldn't buy gas, so we walked everywhere. But we never complained; those were very happy days," she said with a wistful smile.
While working for U. S. Rubber, Dick and Ruth also lived in Joliet, Ill., and South Bend, Ind.
In 1948, after WWII ended, Dick and his twin brother, Robert, returned to Alliance to join the family business, Alliance Building Supply, which was managed by their father.
While in Alliance, Dick and Ruth raised their family which included sons, William and Bruce and daughter, Barbara.
While Dick was completing his courses at MUC, Ruth interrupted her college career to work as a secretary at Ohio Bell. In the late 1960s when son, Bill, was in medical school, son Bruce, was attending the University of Miami, and daughter, Barbara, was in junior high school, Ruth decided it was time to return to college. In 1970, she graduated from Mount Union with an education degree and embarked on a teaching career. She taught first grade in the Marlington School District for 18 years before retiring.
During his business career, Dick has been an active member of the Alliance Kiwanis Club. One of the special guests at the 70th anniversary festivities will be a Toronto, Canada, attorney who the Jones hosted as an exchange student from Pakistan. "We have enjoyed keeping in touch with, Al, as he embarked on his career, married, and has raised his family," said Ruth.
Now in their 90s, Ruth and Dick have an active life at Copeland. Dick just returned from a week-long "baseball trip" to Orlando, Fla. "It's an annual men's event, when as many of the Jones family and friends enjoy a week of baseball at one of the historic stadiums around the U.S.," explained Ruth. Dick also is an accomplished vegetable gardener. "We are still enjoying beans that he grew last summer and kept in the freezer," reported Ruth.
Ruth counts one of their greatest gifts as "good health." "We have been so blessed to be healthy and to enjoy watching our family grow and grow," she said as she paged through an album filled with photos of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
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