Monday, April 18, 2016

In Memory

The soundtrack of Nancy Jones  
Nancy Kay Jones

Apr 3, 2016 - By Randy Tucker
taken from the Riverton Ranger

It was one of a kind, and it is gone too soon.

Win or lose, there was always a good soundtrack when we took the Shoshoni Wranglers to Leroy Sinner Field in Pavillion.

Playing your alma mater while leading a rival team is one of the joys of coaching.

The games against Wind River were special for me, but sadness will descend each time the whistle sounds and the ball is kicked at Pavillion from now on.

The wonderful woman who provided that musical backdrop has passed away far too soon.

Nancy Jones was the older sister of my high school friend Dennis. She did her student teaching during my senior year at Wind River.

In small communities, kids leave and often never return, but sometimes the best come back and give much more to the community than they ever received. That's the way it was with Nancy.

Whether it was English class, a speech meet, dinner theater or accompanying endless musical groups on the keyboard, Nancy Jones was there.

As a student teacher she didn't look any older than the students she had in class. She sponsored us on a speech meet to Powell in the spring of 1975 and had trouble getting motel managers and restaurant owners to believe she was the teacher.

It took a lot of talking and her driver's license to prove she was really a 22-year old student-teacher and not just one of the girls trying to pull a fast one with a school voucher.

Nancy gave her heart to the kids of Morton, Pavillion, Crowheart and Midvale. Her friendly, personal touch eroded the tough exteriors of many hard-to-reach children, and the entire community was better for it.

We crossed paths many times in my teaching and coaching career and again as a sports reporter covering the Wind River Cougars.

I always made it a point to climb up into the Cougar crow's nest to thank Nancy for playing Bob Seeger, Creedence Clearwater and especially Motown during football games and track meets.

Her distinctive voice extended beyond the Pavillion area. I can still hear it ringing across the infield of regional track meets in Thermopolis and Lander.

She was one of a kind.

Occasionally she would call down from the announcer's booth with, "Mr. Tucker, this one is for you," always followed by the Temptations, the Four Tops or a Beach Boys tune.

"The kids don't always appreciate my taste in music but you sure do," she often said to me.

The dinner theater programs at Pavillion were Nancy's creation, and she extended her love of music to Central Wyoming College as well where she would accompany musical productions or play in the pit orchestra.

I turned pages for my wife Sue as she accompanied a college production a couple of times, and Nancy was always there. She often filled in on an electric keyboard for missing instruments in the orchestra and was always fun to banter with during practice sessions and intermissions.

While my dexterity didn't extend to thread, yarn, knitting and needlework, Nancy's did. She was renowned in the fabric community in Fremont County, and she will be sadly missed in that venue as well.

Nancy often commented on my columns and even used them a few times in her English classes. I always kidded her, falsely complaining that it wasn't fair for her to pick my writing apart in her grammar classes.

She took it in stride, as she did everything in life, and she chided me before getting serious and telling me that she often used my writing as an example to the kids in her class of a student from long ago who actually used what she was teaching them in real life.

As with most of long-term teachers she was worried about the state of education in America, in Wyoming, and especially in her own classroom.

We often shared those concerns with laments over the latest, greatest fad that we knew would never help a single student but would bring millions to the corporation that came up with the idea.

After a long discussion she would always smile and say (paraphrasing) "If it helps the students I'm all for it, but I think I'll stick to the basics and use what I know will work."

Nancy always put the kids first.

She was a bit eccentric, as her unique home just a mile or so southwest of Midvale indicated with its turret, windmill and distinct architecture, but that just added to her charm.

She left of us too soon.

The sound of Fremont County will be duller, a little less enthusiastic, and a bit more somber without her musical backdrop.

Nancy, thanks for taking the time all these years and bringing the written word, speech and music to hundreds of children who would never have found it without you.

Editor's note: Staff writer Randy Tucker is a retired public school educator.
Courtesy of the Riverton Ranger
* * * * *

Nancy works on a needle-felted project at Tuesday night knitting
in November 2014.  She taught many knitting, needle-felting,
and wet-felting classes in Riverton, Lander, and Casper. 
Nancy served as the Guild president for two terms and often 
volunteered to lead educational programs after the meetings and
at the Guild Fiber Fest.
Nancy Kay Jones
Feb 1952 -- Mar 2016

A celebration of her life will be held on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at 2:00 pm at the REACH Foundation Clubhouse in Riverton, WY

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