Meet Richard Jones, Carillon of Knightdale’s Local Retired Farmer, Landscaper and Gardener
Whether tending the garden out back, visiting the Walmart where he used to oversee the garden shop, chatting with elementary school students, or encouraging other residents, Richard Jones is one of the most active residents at Carillon Assisted Living of Knightdale.
Seeing the gregarious 81-year-old native of Rolesville, North Carolina in action would surprise his high school classmates, who named him “Quietest Person” his senior year.
“I don’t see too many strangers anymore,” said Jones, who celebrates his 82nd birthday on Sept. 17. “When one of my classmates saw me recently, she said, ‘You really have changed. You didn’t say much of anything when you were in school.’”
Jones grew up on a farm about 20 miles north of Raleigh with one brother and two sisters. Although his father died when Richard was just nine, his mother stayed on the farm; part of the land remains in the family to this day.
Jones returned to the farm after high school and stayed for more than a dozen years, continuing to raise crops with his brother after his mother’s death in 1965.
He said farming takes a lot of faith, which has been an integral part of his life since he was 14 years old (Jones is still a member of his first church, Bethany Baptist).
“Good weather makes a good crop; bad weather doesn’t,” Jones said. “You have to have a lot of faith to continue farming. Most years, crops will be good, but two out of 10 will be bad because of hail or the weather being so dry it messes you up.”
With suburban growth encroaching on farmland and the ups-and-downs of their occupation, in 1967 Jones and his brother decided to sell most of their land and turn to other ways of making a living.
After leaving the farm and getting married, Jones spent 10 years in the landscaping business. He then joined the staff of a garden shop in Raleigh for eight more. After it went out of business, he went to work for the first Walmart store based in Raleigh, North Carolina’s capital city.
Over the next 16 years he trained all personnel working for Walmart’s garden shops within a 50-mile radius of Raleigh, as well as helping customers with such questions as how to buy fertilizer, seed a lawn, or plant flowers and trees.
“I was an outdoor person,” Jones said. “I wanted to be outside in the fresh air. Even though I worked at a garden center, I didn’t have to stay shut up inside a building. Today I don’t like staying shut up in my room. I like to get outside.”
In addition to being an outdoors enthusiast, the Knightsville resident is the father of two sons: Dennis, a paralegal in Raleigh; and George, who works for a heating and air conditioning firm in Durham. Jones and his wife also helped raise a nephew, who is now the principal of a Christian school.
The couple took all three boys to church and taught them to believe in God, and that God would take care of them if they did what He wanted them to do. While many of their friends took up drinking in high school, their sons and nephew never did.
Life has brought setbacks. In addition to his wife’s passing in 2003, Jones has lost all his siblings and numerous extended family members.
This is where his faith has played such a practical role in his life. God has placed a peace in his heart that helps him withstand the inevitable feelings of loneliness when Christmas and other special occasions come around.
“We’re happier with the Lord than without Him,” said Jones, who will soon mark his fifth anniversary as a Carillon resident. “He takes that emptiness out of our heart and puts joy and obedience in it. When I go to bed at night and say, ‘Everything is well if I don’t wake up any more,’ that’s a good feeling.”
He is also happy to have friends among his neighbors at Carillon. Learning about their lives, sharing stories and participating in activities are now what fill Richard’s days and heart.
on January 5, 2017