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AUBURNDALE - C. Fred Jones, lifelong Auburndale resident and former 'Dean of the Florida House of Representatives' died Thursday, July 9, 2015, at Good Shepherd Hospice in Auburndale.
Jones was born in Auburndale on April 19, 1930, to Paul J. and Lessie N. Jones. He enrolled in first grade in 1936, with classmate, and future wife, Vivian 'Nita' Cannon. Fred distinguished himself from his first-grade peers throughout his first month of school by successfully slipping out of class unnoticed and returning home.
In high school, Jones was in Beta Club and Student Council. He lettered in football, and graduated in 1948. Jones then enrolled at the University of Florida, where he was elected to Student Council, Honor Court, and Clerk of Honor Court. He was a member of Blue Key and the Phi Eta Sigma Honorary Society, and he was inducted into the UF Hall of Fame. He earned a degree in Business Administration in 1952, and was recognized as the Most Outstanding Leader on Campus at the graduation ceremony.
He then enlisted in the Air Force and served in London from 1952 to 1954. Jones had worked his way back to Auburndale by 1957, and he began teaching Sunday school at First Baptist Church, which he continued without interruption until 2012. He worked in the citrus industry, and then in manufacturing during the week. On weekends, he worked on the family farm with his parents and with Dairy Ashley Jr.
He became President of the Auburndale Rotary Club in 1961, and was active in many Auburndale Civic events. On Christmas Eve he donned a Santa suit and visited the local children. Jones discontinued the Santa visits when he learned that 4-year-old Sue Hutchinson had innocently remarked, 'You know, Santa Claus looks a lot like Fred Jones.'
Jones was elected Mayor of Auburndale for the 1962 to 1963, term. He began dating Vivian 'Nita' Jones in 1963, and they married in 1967. In 1970, he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives, where he served for 22 years. He resigned from the House at the conclusion of the 1992 Session and took a position as Director of the Division of Fruit and Vegetables from 1992, until he retired in 1997.
He is most often remembered, however, for his career in the Legislature. When he announced his resignation from the House, his colleagues commended Jones' service by passing House Resolution 475, which referenced his 'trademark independent spirit and good humor...and his fierce dedication to the many issues with which he has been associated.'

Polk Parkway
Jones, once referred to as 'Mr. Polk Parkway,' played a vital role in the development of the parkway. He worked with multiple state and local agencies to shepherd it through the early years and protect the funding for the project.

Sunshine Skyway Bridge
It was Jones who proposed replacing the damaged bridge with the modern French design we have today. This design provides higher clearance, which has enabled bigger ships to enter Tampa Bay.

Stambaugh Middle School
Jones helped secure special funding to rebuild the school on its original site following major tornado damage.

Lake Myrtle Park
C. Fred Jones' legacy isn't limited to his work in the legislature. In 1998, he sold his 126 acre family farm to the City of Auburndale for much less than market value. Those 126 acres, dedicated to the memory of his parents, have grown into the facility we now know as Lake Myrtle Park.
Since his 1997 retirement, he has served on the Board of Directors of multiple civic and charitable organizations, including Good Shepherd Hospice.
He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Vivian 'Nita' Jones of Auburndale; son, Jim Kirkland (Jan) of Atlanta; daughters, Troyanne Kirkland of Winter Haven and Vivian Vogias (David) of Fort Myers; and grandson, Dustin Elison of Fort Myers.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 on Saturday, June 18, 2015, at First Baptist Church of Auburndale, and will be followed by a meal in the Fellowship Hall. The Reverend Jerry Smith will officiate. All are welcome to attend and celebrate the life of C. Fred Jones.

Published in Ledger from July 18 to July 19, 2015
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