GREENSBORO — Abe D. Jones Jr. so exemplified the title of “arts editor” at the News & Record, he’s the only person who has ever held it.
He “knew everybody and everything about the local arts scene,” said Allen Johnson, News & Record editorial page editor and former features editor.
Jones, the newspaper’s arts editor for 14 years, died Sunday night at the age of 87.
Jones had experienced a series of mini-strokes in 2008, and had lived at Starmount Health and Rehab Center since 2013, according to his obituary.
The news business was in Jones’s blood. His dad, Abe Jones Sr., was the The Greensboro Record’s editor. Jones worked first as a clerk, then, upon graduating from Washington & Lee in 1952, took a reporting position.
He covered multiple reporting beats before becoming an editorial writer in 1957 and editor of the editorial pages in 1965.
Jones took over the arts coverage for the paper in the mid-1970s, was named arts editor in 1980 and retired in 1994.
“Over the years, Abe developed a unique bond with those he covered,” wrote then-News & Record Editor Pat Yack when Jones retired. “He valued their work and he understood and respected the enriching contributions they made to our community.”
“His reviews were always delivered with a positive slant,” recalled Mitchel Sommers, executive director of Community Theatre of Greensboro. “In those days, most theater was community based or school based. He understood the balance between writing an honest review but remembering the performers are students, first-timers and volunteers.”
Jones received the Edward R. Murrow award from the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce in 1968 and wrote a book, “Greensboro 27,” in 1976 about 27 people shaping life in Greensboro in the Bicentennial Year.
His favorite assignment, though, was covering the Eastern Music Festival, held every summer at Guilford College.
“Abe was an extremely hard worker,” Johnson said. “Day in and day out, he barely warmed his seat. It seemed he was constantly going to or coming from a performance or an interview. But the hectic pace never rankled him; he always had time for a smile or a kind word.”
In the weeks before his retirement, Jones was honored by many in the arts community. The Greensboro Symphony honored Jones during an intermission, and artists, musicians and actors danced for him, sang for him and gave him pictures and lifetime passes.
“Everyone who knows Abe has been touched by his grace,” Yack wrote.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.