SPEARFISH | William (Bill) Neal Jones, 88, passed away on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, at Rapid City Regional Hospital from a heart that had experienced a great life but just couldn’t function anymore.
Bill was born on Jan. 24, 1931, in Aberdeen, SD. He and his parents moved to a few different towns in South Dakota before settling in Waubay. While in Waubay, Bill and his father built a cabin that was enjoyed by the family for many years. Sadly, where it existed is now underwater in Blue Dog Lake. He graduated from Waubay High School in 1949 and was a forever “49er”. Bill attended Northern State Teachers College for two years and then proudly entered the U.S. Navy. After his stint in the U.S. Navy, he returned to college and graduated ready to teach and coach the young people of South Dakota. He was fortunate to receive a job offer in Dupree, SD, as that is where he met the love of his life, Connie Collins.
Bill and Connie were married on Aug. 2, 1959, and were fortunate to enjoy 58 years of true happiness. When Connie died on Feb. 23, 2018, Bill’s heart broke and it just never quite regained its full strength.
Bill left coaching for a while to sell sporting goods for Dakota Sports. He then entered banking for a few years in Milbank, SD and Cokato, MN, but was not happy being behind a desk. Bill then returned to Milbank to work as a salesman for Dakota Granite Company and traveled countless miles working with monument dealers, many who would become close friends. Bill always had a knack of making long-term friends. He remained close with many of his high school and college friends throughout his life. In fact, Bill and Connie owned a house in Arizona for a while and the neighborhood and visitors were many friends that they had made throughout the years, which made for numerous get-togethers and never-ending stories.
Bill’s passion was always for working with young people, especially in any kind of sport. Besides his children, Bill leaves many “kids” who were his athletes to mourn his passing. He especially enjoyed helping kids discover the joys of basketball and golf. Bill and Connie were honored to receive the South Dakota High School Activities Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 2002 to recognize the many hours they both spent working with the youth of South Dakota.
Bill and Connie loved to travel. They were able to travel to many areas of the world, often they were lucky enough to travel with friends. One special trip was to Switzerland with Max and Jeannie Gonzenbach and Jess and Joyce Riddle. The men always made an interesting group as there was quite a discrepancy in heights, which they played to the hilt. Bill had a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor that endeared him to many. He was an only child but in 2000 he was “adopted” into the Stocking family in a ceremony that sealed lifelong friendships and gave him the brothers and sister he had always wanted.
Bill will be greeted in heaven by his wife, Connie; and granddaughter, Millie Harrison. He is lovingly remembered by his three children: Terri Harrison (Cecil) of Colorado Springs, Jeff Jones (Kathy) of Milbank, SD, and Susie LaCroix (Brad) of Newcastle, WY; his perfect grandchildren: Adam Jones (Presley), Morgan Jones, Shenae LaCroix, and Sierra LaCroix.
Memorial services will be at 11 am on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019, at the United Church of Christ in Spearfish. Inurnment for Bill and Connie will follow at Black Hills National Cemetery near Sturgis with full military honors.