A friend to all and a stranger to none — that’s the way South Boston firefighter Calvin “Sput” Jones will be remembered.
“He was a people person,” said South Boston Fire Chief Steve Phillips. “He didn’t meet any strangers and he was always real friendly with everybody.”
Jones, a retired firefighter and EMT for the town of South Boston, died Friday at the age of 62. He was married to Angela Hale “Angie” Jones, who survives.
“It’s certainly a tremendous loss to his family, to the fire department and to the community,” Phillips said, of Jones’ passing.
A black drape hung on the front of the South Boston Fire Department over the weekend honoring the memory of the beloved firefighter for his many years of service. Jones joined the fire department in his teenage years as a junior firefighter in the 1970s. He later became a volunteer firefighter and eventually came on board as a paid firefighter with the department.
Jones was a lifetime member of the South Boston Volunteer Fire Company and the Halifax County Rescue Squad. He was a past president of the Southside Virginia Volunteer Firefighter Association. He also served as the safety director at the South Boston Speedway for many years. He attended Ash Avenue Baptist Church.
But the things Jones was most known for were his congenial personality and willingness to help his fellow community members in any way that he could.
“Anything someone needed in the community, he was there to give 100%,” said Ray Conner, a firefighter with the South Boston Fire Department. “Anything he could do, he would bend over backwards trying to make sure it was done.”
Jones’ funeral was evidence of his impact in the community, as his family, friends and fellow firefighters packed the South Boston Fire Company Support Building at noon Monday to pay their respects.
“In the race of life, he was blessed in many ways. He touched a lot of people in this community and in other communities,” said the Rev. Norman Talley, during Jones’ funeral. “He loved to support the firefighters, the racetrack and the community itself.”
Jones traveled all over the state teaching fire classes, and many in the South Boston Fire Department benefitted from his teaching skills and experience. Conner started as a volunteer firefighter in 1990, and he said Jones helped him become the trained, expert firefighter he is today. Now, Conner is a paid member of the fire department.
“He was a friend, almost like a father figure to me,” Conner said. “He helped me work my way up in the fire department and get all my certifications…He got us the training to get us where we needed to go.”
One of Jones’ major contributions to the South Boston Fire Department was bringing the first responder program to the department.
“He really had it in his heart,” Phillips said. He added that Jones helped fire departments in other communities get first responder programs up and running, as well.
“He pushed us to get the EMS certification,” Conner said. “That showed us another aspect to helping the community other than fighting fire.”
The number of fire trucks in Jones’ funeral procession was a testament to his impact on the firefighting community. A line of fire and EMS trucks with lights flashing made the way past the South Boston Fire Company Support Building, among them the Oak Level Volunteer Fire Department, Turbeville Volunteer Fire Department, Liberty Volunteer Fire Department and Halifax County Rescue Squad. The display in memory of the late firefighter was evidence that while Jones is no longer physically present in the South Boston community, the flame of his legacy will never be extinguished.