The time was January 1960. Since their marriage almost a year earlier, Ron and Judy Jones had been living in campus housing at the University of Oklahoma. Their apartment was fully furnished by the university, and they hadn’t had time to collect much “junk.”
Ron had just graduated with a degree in chemical engineering and had accepted a job with Kerr-McGee in Oklahoma City. The company sent a really large moving van to transport the Joneses’ belongings to their new home.
The humor in the situation quickly became obvious. The couple had one bicycle, one television set, their clothing and a few personal items. Period.
Judy recalled last week that she, Ron and even the movers enjoyed a few laughs about the incongruity of this scenario.
In Judy’s case, it was only natural that she was able to delight in the situation. She indicated last week that as a confirmed optimist, she has been prone to look at the positive side of things for as long as she can remember.
In fact, the outward manifestations of this mindset—an infectious smile and gracious manner—are two of her most endearing qualities.
Marlow girlJudy was actually born in Wynnewood, but her father had had business interests in cotton in the Marlow area from as early as several years before. For a time, he oversaw these transactions by commuting the 49 miles from Wynnewood.
But when Judy was 2, John Mitchell moved his wife Dorothy and their two daughters, Jane and Judy, to the charming little community of Marlow. Judy indicated that her older sister Jane died at the age of 45 from multiple sclerosis.
John went into partnership with a man named Rouse and opened Mitchell & Rouse on Main Street. Seventy-two years later, the business, now Mitchell & Mitchell, is still in operation in its original location.
The Mitchell girls grew up here, and Judy attended Marlow schools from the age of 5, graduating from Marlow High in 1956.
During her formative years, she took tap lessons from Maureen Boyd and received piano instruction from Kathryn Cox. She was also active in Brownies and Girl Scouts.
The year she graduated from Marlow High was an eventful one on the world stage. American actress Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier of Monaco; the Andrea Doria sank in the Atlantic, killing 51; Elvis Presley appeared on America’s music charts for the first time with Heartbreak Hotel; the Yankees’ Don Larsen pitched the first perfect game in World Series history; and voters re-elected President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
It was a busy time for spunky Marlow cheerleader Judy Mitchell, as well. Besides her extracurricular activities in the pep club and the BW Club, a social organization for girls, she served as editor of her high school yearbook, senior class reporter and a member of the Roundup News staff.
She was also active in Marlow’s First Methodist Church and served as worthy advisor of Rainbow for Girls. And then there were the Friday night dances, socializing at the local skating rink, and going to the movies.
“We were busy all the time,” she said of herself and her friends.
Quonset hutsAfter graduating, Judy attended Christian College, a girls’ school in Columbia, Missouri, for one year, then transferred to OU, where she majored in business.
and culture shock
and culture shock
In the meantime, a young man named Ron Jones had been growing up in Duncan, serving his country in Japan for a time as a National Guardsman, and was now attending OU.
Despite the proximity of their hometowns, he and Judy had never met; but “a dear friend” of Judy’s, Nancy (Jones) Anthony, who was also Ron’s cousin, corrected that oversight. She introduced the pretty sophomore coed and the young chemical engineering student.
After dining together with friends in the cafeteria for awhile, Judy and Ron started dating; and on February 28, 1959, the two were married at the Methodist church in Marlow.
They moved into married students’ housing in Norman—initially, into a no-frills, one-bedroom Quonset hut with little floor space and not so much as a single closet, Judy recalled. But in time, they relocated to nicer student housing quarters, a furnished two-bedroom unit, taking their bicycle and TV with them.
Judy worked at Tinker AFB while Ron finished his education. She was active in the engineers’ wives’ club and like the other members, earned her Ph.T. (putting hubby through) degree.
During Ron’s time with Kerr-McGee, the company sent him back-and-forth between Cushing and Oklahoma City a couple of times, which necessitated several relocations. He then hired on with the M.W. Kellogg Company, a highly-respected firm that years later became the engineering subsidiary of Dresser Industries and in 1998, merged with Halliburton’s Brown & Root to form KBR.
At the time Ron joined their ranks, Kellogg was headquartered in New York City, so the Joneses moved to the NYC metropolitan area with their young son Kevin (and presumably with much more than a bike and a TV set).
After having lived in Cushing, Judy experienced a bit of culture shock upon their arrival in the Big Apple. The newcomers from Oklahoma settled in the suburb of Scarsdale, a community Judy described as “a beautiful little English-looking village,” and Ron commuted into the city.
During the remainder of his career, Ron’s work took the family to various locations in Texas, Kansas, New Jersey, Florida and Tennessee. Indicative of this nomadic existence are the facts that Kevin, who had been born in Oklahoma City, graduated from high school in Summit, New Jersey. And the Joneses’ younger son, Kyle, was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, and graduated in Germantown, Tennessee.
Kevin is now a director and an artistic associate of the Summoners Ensemble in New York. He is the external communications manager for the Boneau/Bryan-Brown press office for Broadway productions.
The younger son, Kyle, is vice-president of Mitchell & Mitchell, Inc., and lives in Marlow.
The Joneses’ last residence before returning to Marlow in 2001 was Memphis, Tennessee. While there, Judy was employed in the communications department of the Holiday Inn corporation for 15 years, she said.
During her time in their employ, Holiday Inn, Inc., became part of The Promus Companies, a conglomeration that included Hampton Inns, Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites and Harrah’s; and in time, the portion of this firm for whom she worked became known as Harrah’s, Incorporated.
“It was a great company. I met some lovely people,” she noted, adding that even now, she stays in touch with some of her former co-workers.
It was during her years with the hotel firm that she returned to school, juggling a full-time job with her studies and earning a degree in business in 1989 at the University of Memphis.
Taking care of businessJohn Mitchell died in 1995, and his wife Dorothy in 1998. For awhile, Ron, who by this time was retired, traveled semi-regularly from Memphis to Marlow to monitor the affairs of the family business; but the commuting soon proved to be too much.
So the Joneses returned to Marlow in 2001 and took over the reins of Mitchell & Mitchell.
Judy is at the feed store almost every business day, assisting with the accounting, sales and other day-to-day operations.
She and Ron are active members of the First United Methodist Church, and Judy is currently serving as president of the United Methodist Women’s ministry. She is also treasurer of the Friends of the Library, as well as secretary and past-president of Delta Sigma sorority.
Other affiliations include Chapter BK of PEO in Duncan, the Elizabethan Study Club, and a local book club that meets monthly.
“I like to read when I have time,” she observed, noting that she enjoys both fiction and non-fiction works, especially historical novels.
Since returning to Marlow, Judy has renewed old friendships with special high school pals like Louise Gentry, Ramona McWatters, Gail Bailey and Kay Lynn Alexander.
“We all look forward to our school class reunions. We meet once a month for lunch,” she said, referring to former classmates, both male and female, and their spouses.
“I’ve enjoyed getting reacquainted with some old friends, meeting new friends and neighbors, and getting back in the church and the town.
“I’ve always loved Marlow,” she concluded.