Neighbors remember 94-year-old man killed in fire

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) – John M. Jones, a 94-year-old World War II veteran of the Army Air Corps, left an impression with three young women.

“Just the little things that we all take for granted made the world of difference,” recalled Lisa Edmonds, who worked next door to Jones’ home in Chesapeake.

Jones died this week from injuries suffered during a fire that swept through this home on Oak Grove Road on July 23.

The three women work next door at C.W. Petty Contracting saw Johnny as a grandfather figure. They shared one last image of their dear friend with 10 On Your Side: a video from a surprise birthday party they gave Jones three weeks before the fire.

“I wanted to be able to share this video so we can honor Johnny and his memory,” said Amanda Clifton, who helped organize the party.

The video shows Jones singing “The Old Rugged Cross.” Jennifer Richey described the moments leading up to the party: “And then when he came in, we all hollered “HAPPY BIRTHDAY.” He lit up like a Christmas Tree.”

That was on June 29. Three weeks later, two men working near Jones’s home on Oak Grove Road noticed something, according to Edmonds.

“It was really foggy that morning, and when he was unlocking, he noticed there was smoke pouring out the back of the house, and immediately ran in here and called 911,” Edmonds said. “And then they were trying to bust the door down. Johnny had made it to the front door. He was a fighter.”

Less than a week later, Johnny passed away from his injuries. The remains of his small rural home stand in memory of a simple life, and a reminder to three young women.

“We called him the walking encyclopedia,” Richey said. “He was so intelligent.”

“But he was a great person,” interjected Edmonds. “He’s going to be sorely missed.”

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