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September 24, 2012

A Personal Salute to Hugh H. Jones Jr. ’52

Hugh H. Jones Jr. '52 and Robert S. Franco '75

Hugh H. Jones Jr. ’52 (left) and Robert S. Franco ’75

In a mere six weeks in 1981, my life changed in several fundamental and exciting ways. On May 24, I graduated from Meharry Medical School, Nashville, Tenn., and two weeks later, married Alicia Boswell. We moved to Florida, near where I was to begin an orthopaedic surgery residency in Jacksonville on July 1.

I wrote to the several Lafayette alumni in the area. Only one man responded: Hugh H. Jones Jr. ’52. He invited me to lunch at Barnett Bank, where he was an executive and eventually became chief executive officer. Mr. Jones—or “Peb” as his friends know him—embraced me with great warmth.

Over the five challenging years of my residency, Peb gave me sound advice and compassionate support. Two of our three sons were born during that time—Stephen in 1982 and James in 1984. I was ecstatic but, at the time, I could barely spell orthopaedics. Although I was passionate about my work, I felt very new to it. Peb guided me. He taught me how to budget a modest resident’s income and instructed me to buy life insurance—he told me what type and how much—to protect my young family.

I would visit with Peb when I was fatigued from the rigors of residency; he would listen and fill me with encouragement. He would give me a hug and say, “I’m proud of you—go do it.”

I  also had the honor of getting to know Peb’s father, Hugh H. Jones Sr., known as “Stoney,” from whom Peb—or Pebble—inherited his nickname. Stoney held tremendous affection for Lafayette, where he served on the Board of Trustees from 1966 until 1979.

Stoney recruited football players for Lafayette from throughout Pennsylvania, especially the western part near the Jones family hometown of Smithton. At Stoney’s house on Amelia Island, Fla., I saw many personal notes and mementos he received from Lafayette football players grateful for his influence on their lives.

Gary Evans ’57 gave a heartfelt eulogy for Stony in the chapel of Amelia Island Plantation on Nov. 6, 1992. Stoney’s spirit and legacy continued at Lafayette with the “Stoney Jones” MVP football trophy, awarded to an outstanding member of the team each year.

Peb also contributed to his community. In 1985, when the son of the Barnett Bank’s president died in heart surgery, Peb made pediatric cardiology his mission. He set up the Korean Heart Program, a partnership between Barnett Bank and University of Florida’s Shands Health Care Center, which brought 71 Korean children to Jacksonville for heart surgery over 10 years. Peb traveled to Korea and identified children with life-threatening congenital cardiac conditions. Barnett Bank paid for the travel, housing, and expenses for the patients and their families, while the university provided all medical and surgical services. Peb, who served on the hospital board, also set up a $1 million endowment that eventually supported the current UF Pediatric Cardiovascular Center.

Peb’s coaching enabled Alicia and I to successfully complete the residency chapter of our lives. I wanted to specialize in the field of orthopaedic sports medicine and in 1986 was fortunate to be accepted by two fellowship programs, Hughston Clinic, Columbus, Ga., and University of Virginia, Charlottesville. But we had one obstacle—money. Peb solved the problem by providing a loan, and we were off to Columbus.

After my education in Georgia and Virginia, Peb encouraged us to return to Jacksonville. In 1988, with our family completed by our third son, Matthew, I began a private practice there. For the next 25 years, Peb became an even greater presence and influence in my life. We shared weekly breakfasts and lunches, as well as meaningful homecoming trips back to Lafayette. By introducing me to coaches, business people, and community leaders, Peb helped make my orthopaedic practice a success.

Since 1981, Peb has been my coach and mentor. He has been a monumental force in my life; his friendship made the good times even sweeter, and he supported me through times of sorrow and struggle.

I’m grateful to Lafayette not only for the superb four years I spent on the Hill, but also for bringing Peb into my life. Thanks to Dick Haines, Barry McCarty, [Lafayette admissions officers], and Mrs. Genevieve Franco, my mother, for giving me the opportunity for both.

Dr. Robert S. Franco ’75
Ponte Verde Beach, Fla.

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4 Comments

  1. I was one of the many football players from Western Pennsylvania who Stoney Jones Sr. helped. He was an exceptional man in every respect and had a great influence on my life through the Christian example that he set. Once, home for Christmas while attending Lafayette, I went to visit him in Pittsburgh. It was a very cold, wintery day and I had no overcoat. He took me to lunch and on the way stopped with me at a department store where he bought me an overcoat. Later, as I got to know him better, I found out that it was one of the hundreds of thoughtful and generous acts of kindness that he performed for Lafayette students, athletes and non-athletes alike. I personally did not know his son Pep, but it sounds like he was cut from the same cloth. God bless them both.

    says Richard N. Lettieri
    August 5, 2013 at 11:21 am
  2. I too have been blessed tremendously by this wonderful man. Mr. Jones approached me with an open heart. As I was a freshman African American student at Lafayette from suburban Jacksonville, Florida, he knew the challenges I would face academically, socially, and possibly financially. We began a relationship that is still strong today. It consists of mainly him findings ways to bless me and my family, although he insists that he gets the better end of the deal. Men like Peb are what Jesus was talking about in John 14:12
    “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
    I wouldn’t be where I am today without this man in my life. Thank you Dr. Franco for sharing.

    says Brandon Mitchell '04
    October 13, 2012 at 1:52 pm
  3. Friendship transcends generations, cities, even fraternity bonds. It may spark another friendship that will make the difference for those that follow. Taking that first step to reach out to your alumni friends in your new town was the beginning to the rich and deep friendship you describe. You are both very fortunate. Thank you for sharing your story.

    says Kelly Derickson
    October 7, 2012 at 7:17 pm
  4. Bob:

    Terrific story that wonderfully tells the true value of the Lafayette experience…not only during school…but after. I’m glad we went there too! Continued success.

    Best regards,

    Neil H. Gray ’74
    Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs
    inVentiv Therapeutics Institute
    An inVentiv Health, Inc. Company
    Somerset, NJ 08873
    T 732-652-3415; M 609-619-2126
    neil.gray@inventivhealth.com

    says Neil H. Gray '74
    October 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm
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