Richard Jones is retiring early as president of the Lodi Boys and Girls Club and heading home to Toledo, Ohio, this summer. He just completed a term on the Lodi Unified School District board and did not seek re-election.
"The youths of Lodi are losing a passionate ally," teachers' union president Jeff Johnston said Tuesday upon hearing the news. "While I am sorry to see him leave, I certainly wish him the best in his much-deserved retirement."
Jones, 65, who has been with the Lodi Boys and Girls Club for 18 years and served on the school board for seven, decided in recent weeks, after talking to family and friends, to retire early. Although his employment contract with the organization runs through 2012, his last day will be Aug. 31, 2011.
He has worked for the national nonprofit organization for more than 35 years.
The Lodi Boys and Girls' Club board has called a special meeting next Wednesday to begin discussion on how to replace Jones. An interim will likely be appointed from inside and a search conducted with the national organization, he said.
Known for his open-door policy at the Boys and Girls Club, Jones often mixed his two duties, inviting parents to talk about issues with the organization and the district.
He was first appointed to the school board in 2003 to fill an open seat and elected to his first two-year term in 2004 and a four-year term in 2006.
During that time, he was chosen by his peers to serve as president three times, carrying the district through the last two tumultuous budget years.
Still, most would say he served with dignity. Even at his last school board meeting in November, Jones' peers complimented him for what he had done for Lodi's children.
During the recognition ceremony, trustee Bonnie Cassel noted that for years to come, Jones' legacy would be the children of Lodi.
In the last two years, as Boys and Girls Club donations decreased with an ailing economy, Jones has weathered possible closures of the club that hundreds of children depend on as a safe place to go after school and during breaks. Since 2008, private donations were halved and more than a dozen employees have been laid off.
He said Tuesday that he will miss the Lodi community which he said accepted him with open arms.
Jones began his professional life as a public school teacher in Toledo, but left the public school system to accept a position with the local Boys and Girls Club. He has been involved with the nonprofit since age 6, when he was a member.
He relocated to head up the Lodi organization in 1993 and quickly became involved in a number of community service organizations such as the Tokay Rotary Club. In 2008, he was appointed to the Lodi Hall of Fame for his contributions to the community.
Although he never married, Jones became an adoptive father to 11 children through the years and fostered others who are now scattered throughout the United States. However, his siblings, nieces and nephews live in Ohio.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.