Remembering former Livingston Mayor Derral Jones

Dallas “Derral” Jones (05/10/1941-12/03/2017): leader, mentor, public servant, politician, man and friend.
Derral Jones was a man blessed with many great qualities and abilities. A lot of people might not remember this, but he once owned and operated a grocery business as well as an automobile parts business. Yes, Derral Jones was a man of many talents and interests, and he was certainly successful in each of his endeavors.
derraljonesIn the 1980s, he was known as Livingston Fire Chief Derral Jones. He played a major role in coordinating the emergency response during the 1982 train derailment, which dumped hazardous chemicals into the town of Livingston and caused the evacuation of 2,700 people from their homes and businesses. That train derailment was a major event and something that stuck with Derral Jones throughout his public and political life. I’ll elaborate on that in a minute.
Derral Jones was elected and served out three terms on the Board of Aldermen for the town of Livingston before seeking and winning the election for mayor of the town, a position he held for five consecutive terms.
Throughout his life, he seemed to have a vision for the needs of the people – both current needs and those needs that would evolve in the future. This vision resulted in many achievements that now serve as legacies to his dedication and vision for the town of Livingston: the baseball complex, Circle Park Drive, miles of sidewalks that wind through the Town, improvements to the Fire Department, planning projects and street/infrastructure improvements. He just had a knack for seeing into the future needs of this community, and he had the tenacity to get it done.
He had a strong commitment to his work and role as a public servant and a strong determination to finish the projects he started.
There was an unusual spirit of cooperation between Derral Jones as mayor and the Town Council members. He also had a strong bond with the people of Livingston, and he openly acknowledged his gratitude to the citizens that supported his election and subsequent re-elections. He spoke of that publicly during the 2012 election.
As if all these commitments weren’t enough, he also served as chairman of the 911 board. He took this commitment very seriously and was, I think, very proud to serve in this capacity. His vision was instrumental in the growth and prosperity of this board.
He told me many times he hoped to live long enough to see the cleanup of the train derailment site through to its closure. It took him more than 30 years as chairman of the Livingston Intergovernmental Commission, but once again he got it done. As 2015 drew to a close, it was announced that cleanup following the 1982 train derailment in Livingston was nearing completion.
This admirable man was first and foremost my friend. He was my confident and, to a large degree, one of my top political advisers. It was often his words of wisdom that helped solve many issues I faced after I took office in 2012.
He never hesitated to offer his unwavering support and friendship. His commitment to the people in the town of Livingston, as well as to Livingston Parish, never ceased to amaze me. He was a true servant, but more importantly, a true leader.
Derral Jones was a man who lived by his word, practiced what he preached and always shot straight from the hip, rare in the political venue or any other venue for that matter. He was honest, straight-forward and a true gentleman. I loved Mayor Derral Jones.
Like many, many of you, I will miss him greatly. May God bless him and his family.
And may God bless each of you this holiday season. Treasure those you love because time on this earth is short. Make sure those people who are important to you know what a blessing they are to you and how grateful you are to have them in your life.
This column by Parish President Layton Ricks is a regular feature in the Journal. Contact the president’s office at 225-686-4400. or email comments or questions to him at info@livingstonparishla.gov. See the official parish government website www.livingstonparishla.gov for information on all parish offices and departments.