Even in death, the former newspaper editor managed a parting political lesson.
By MARY SANCHEZ
The Kansas City Star
A postscript to the many insights hed given his now grieving son.
Dads presidential candidate won.
He knew his vote would cancel mine out, said Mark P. Jones, an assistant city attorney with Kansas City.
Perrin Jones was a small-town newspaper man in the vein of William Allen White savvy, influential and politically connected.
He died at 80 last Friday, at home in Arkansas. Sick with respiratory problems in his final weeks, the aging editor and publisher had worried about whether he would be able to cast his vote.
The family arranged for an absentee ballot, which he carefully filled out.
The next day, his wife told him that he didnt have to worry anymore. His vote was in. He died 10 minutes later.
It didnt surprise me to hear that hed taken his last breath knowing that hed gotten his last vote in, the younger Jones said.
The family owned The Daily Citizen in Searcy, Ark., for three generations. Perrin Jones was editor from 1954 until 1986, even after the family sold the paper in 1977. He continued writing a column until September. He once told a reporter that hed never bought any printing equipment that he couldnt run himself, just in case he needed to pitch in to ensure the newspaper printed daily.
As a child, his only son learned much by being the flower on the wall. He remembers election nights at the county courthouse, watching the ballot boxes being brought in, the results being counted and new totals being posted on a giant blackboard.
He listened when politicians came to visit in the family home. Theyd pitch their cases, attempting to garner a positive editorial. One day, a very young Bill Clinton came by.
In January, as his father neared his 80th birthday, his son sensed it might be his fathers last. So he and an aunt began soliciting letters from politicians his fathers life had touched.
On his birthday, the elder Jones was presented with the stack of letters and notes. The one from Clinton read: Perrin, can you believe weve gotten to be this old?
After the newspaper was sold, Jones worked as an investigator for the consumer protection division in the Arkansas attorney generals office. He was an expert on the states Freedom of Information Act, which he had been instrumental in passing. In a way, it allowed him to stay connected to his two loves, the press and politics.
On Tuesday, his son drove from Little Rock back to Kansas City, determined to cast his own ballot. His father, who never missed an election, would have been pleased.
To reach Mary Sanchez, call 816-234-4752 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.