Petersburg Pilot -

Obituary, Bruce Hershel Jones, 78


Bruce Hershel Jones

Bruce Hershel Jones was born in Petersburg, Alaska in 1935, and went to be with the Lord on March 6, 2014, just ten days short of celebrating his 79th birthday.

During his youth he held a paper route from the town to the graveyard; washed dishes at both the Pastime Café and Winnie's Café and took tickets at the theater. He drove a delivery truck for Wasvick & Torwick and seined with Adolph Mathisen on the F/V Harmony for four seasons.

Bruce graduated Petersburg High School in 1953, and went on to represent the Beavers at Oregon State singing in the Choir and graduating with a BS in Business Administration in 1957. After a short stint as an Enlisted man in the Army, he found a job with the industry, which would shape much of the rest of his life.

From 1960 to the early 70's Bruce enjoyed the life of working with the airlines in exotic locations all around the globe. As a Station Manager for Pan American airlines, Bruce was assigned to Roberts Field, Liberia, where he met and married a Pan American stewardess named Sheila Stubbings. They returned to Alaska and had a son, Mark in 1965. They divorced in 1967, and in 1969 Bruce returned to Africa with his son, taking a Station Manager position in Kinshasa, Congo. He represented the only US air carrier in West Africa and worked very closely with Air Congo and developed deep friendships with some of the expats in Kinshasa. He and Mark returned to the United States in 1972 as Pan American was beginning to shut down operations all around the world.

Taking a position with Wien Air Alaska as a Relief Station Manager and the Director of Interline Sales, Bruce also enjoyed additional duty as the Camp Manager for Brooks Lodge at Katmai National Monument for several summer seasons. He spent summers working with visitors who were looking for fishing and sight seeing opportunities at the Valley of the 10,000 Smokes, just south of King Salmon, Alaska. He was ultimately promoted to Wien's Station Manager in Anchorage. Later, as Wien began to decline and sell off assets, Bruce jumped two more times in the airline world, working at Kodiak Western Airlines and at Air Logistics of Alaska until 1985. In that year he chose a different path.

Having worked for several companies in many locations over the past 25 years he chose a position as an Employment Security Specialist for the State of Alaska Department of Labor, specializing in assisting Veterans with placement in the job market.

He returned to Petersburg in 1996. A year later he met former classmate Marilyn Meeks who was in Petersburg for reunion events. They were married in 1999, and moved south to the Dallas/McMinnville area of central Oregon. Bruce volunteered his time assisting children with their reading in class a few days per week, and took on the volunteer position as a tour guide at the Evergreen Air and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. Interfacing with the public and talking about his passion while standing in the new home of the "Spruce Goose", Bruce found his life coming full circle.

They came home to Petersburg permanently in 2012, looking forward to fishing and deepening relationships with friends and family.

In the fall of 2013, Bruce was diagnosed with a mass in his abdomen at PMC, and was airlifted to Anchorage Regional Hospital for surgery. He spent Thanksgiving in Anchorage. He returned to Petersburg in December, and in January of this year returned to Anchorage for follow-up. The mass was ultimately diagnosed as Stage IV Stomach Cancer. Choosing to return to his boyhood home, Bruce, Marilyn and his son, Mark, flew back south from Anchorage on what would be considered by many on the flight as, "the prettiest, clearest day to fly south that I've ever seen!" It was a great way to return to his hometown and was a great blessing for the man who'd spent so much of his life affiliated with aviation.

He spent the last weeks of his life in Hospice care with the caring staff of professionals at Petersburg Medical Center, his wife, son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters, nieces and nephews, friends and acquaintances who dropped in to see Bruce. The children of his reading group in Petersburg Elementary "Skyped" a video call to him one day, energetically singing two songs and wishing him well, and many stopped by in the last few weeks to cheer him up.

On Thursday he departed this world with hope in Jesus Christ!

Bruce Jones is preceded in death by: Father, Hugh J Jones (1965) of Petersburg, Mother, Evangeline (Swanson) Jones of Petersburg, and Sister, Marlene "Molly" (Jones) Thynes, (1990) of Petersburg.

He is survived by: Wife, Marilyn (Meeks) Jones, of Petersburg; Son, Mark Hickinbotham and wife, Peggy, of Madison, Alabama; Granddaughters, Amy (Hickinbotham) York of Oak Harbor, WA; Abigail Hickinbotham and Alyssa Hickinbotham of Madison, AL; Three great-granddaughters, Rylan, Analiese and Emmeline of Oak Harbor, WA;

Nieces Debra (Thynes) and husband Eldon Johnson of

Petersburg; Tracey (Thynes) and husband Alex Reid of Petersburg; Shelley (Thynes) and husband Kent Reid of Gig Harbor, WA; and nephew David and wife, Tanya Thynes of Petersburg; three great-nieces and six great-nephews.

His wishes were to not have a memorial service at this time.


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