Jack Jones began wrestling at Beall High School (Frostburg, Maryland) in 1952; he competed, later that decade, for three years at American University. His distinguished career as teacher, coach, athletic director, wrestling referee, and wrestling commissioner began in 1958 and spanned 44 years. Jack’s remarkable contributions in the field of education included 32 years at the Eaglebrook School (Deerfield, Massachusetts) where he taught a variety of academic subjects, coached three different sports (including wrestling), and served as athletic director for 28 years. Donald Gordon (former head wrestling coach at Frontier Regional High School) stated, “Jack was always willing to promote situations that benefited young people in both athletics and other aspects of their lives. His leadership, dedication, and wisdom touched all who knew him.”
Jack’s greatest contributions to the sport of wrestling were through his officiating. Jack officiated high school and youth wrestling across five different decades; in addition, he also refereed New England college wrestling matches in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Highly-respected Massachusetts official Ed Henry noted, “Mr. Jones epitomized what it means to be an educator, coach and official. He was first-class in all respects: as a sportsman, as a person of integrity, and as an educator who earned the respect of everyone with whom he came in contact. Jack had a unique ability to defuse potential unsettling situations with grace and ease. It was not unusual for coaches and wrestlers to walk away with a smile. He helped uphold the honor and dignity of his profession.” Donald Gordon affirmed these aspects of Jack’s character. He added, “Jack loved the sport of wrestling and it was evident in how he related to coaches, wrestlers, spectators, and school officials. One could count on him being consistent in applying the rules and making judgment calls. He was always willing to discuss a match or situation and explain his reasoning. Jack was confident and even-tempered, with a good sense of humor. My one word to sum up and describe Jack would be ‘gentleman.’”
In addition, during his career as an official, Jack held every administrative position within the Western Massachusetts Interscholastic Wrestling Officials Association (WMIWOA). In his role as commissioner (roughly 20 years), Jack was respected, committed, effective, and innovative. 2010 Massachusetts Chapter inductee Frank Millard said, “During my 27 years at NMH, I was impressed with the growth of the Western Massachusetts Wrestling Association and I know that a lot of that had to do with Jack’s leadership of the group and his devotion to making wrestling better.”
Jack was faced with his most formidable opponent, however, off the mat. In the fall of 2002, after a routine medical examination, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Although surgery was performed at that time, the cancer returned with a vengeance in the fall of 2003. Over the next two years, Jack would undergo further surgeries, coupled with chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Living his passion as an inter-scholastic wrestling referee was a motivating factor for Jack during this challenging time. In fact, he was still able to officiate some matches while undergoing cancer treatment. Ultimately, Jack was able to bounce back due to his strong can-do attitude, incredible enthusiasm, and commitment to the sport of wrestling. In 2005, after a period of hospitalization, he was able to rebuild his stamina and, at the age of 68, officiate at yet another prep school championship.
As Jack stated in an article featured in the June 2006 issue of Franklin Health magazine, “I have learned that there is no substitute for optimism, humor, friendship, goals, physical activity and spirituality. The support of my friends, including those in the wrestling community and the entire staff at Franklin Medical Center has been immeasurable.”
In conclusion, Jack Jones made significant contributions to Massachusetts wrestling through his work as an official and commissioner. He was respected for his commitment, professionalism, and fairness. He led by example, treated people with respect, and emphasized the growth of everyone in his orbit. Jack has already been recognized by several associations, as well as the Massachusetts House of Representatives, for his distinguished dedication to the sport of wrestling. It is fitting, in light of his many contributions and also the serious health challenges that he has tackled courageously, that he is now being honored with the Lifetime Service Award by the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Lifetime Service to Wrestling
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