Victoria sportsman’s generosity applauded

Longtime rugby patron George Jones to be honoured at tribute event

Friends of George Jones (left) stand by in case of emergency as he works out at the Velox Valhallians clubhouse. David Naysmith (clockwise from top)

George Jones has spent a lifetime giving back. Despite this, at age 78, he feels compelled to do more to help others.

“I can’t say no to people, I’ve got to help them,” the James Bay resident says. “I’m just lucky I was born with the ability to actually do a couple of things, one of which is be a lawyer, and two, is be a coach. So the more I share, the better.”

More than 300 people will gather in his honour May 2 for a testimonial dinner and live auction at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Partial proceeds from the sold-out event will go to the George F. Jones Scholarship, offered through the Rugby Canada Foundation. The fund helps female rugby players afford post-secondary education.

“He is incredibly well-liked around the community, by friends, family, colleagues,” says Brett Jones, one of Jones’ seven children and the emcee for Wednesday’s event.

George Jones’ career and athletic accomplishments are impressive.

In addition to coaching, managing and playing on numerous rugby teams, he was a founding member of the Velox Rugby club, the Rugby Canada Foundation and the Victoria Commonwealth Games Society. He is also a past-president of the James Bay Athletic Association, among his other volunteer roles.

In 54 years as a lawyer – Jones still practises as a full-time tax lawyer with Horne Coupar – he has provided thousands of hours in pro bono work to countless individuals and organizations.

“Anybody who’s been in need and asked George for help has received it,” says Victoria resident Gerald Hartwig, who first met Jones 30 years ago.

The idea for the tribute dinner was born about two months ago when a group of friends chatted while waiting for Jones during their weekly social gathering.

“George was late for breakfast so we took the opportunity to talk about him,” Hartwig quips.

“And we just talked about all the incredibly great things that he has done for the community. It’s always from the goodness of his heart – never for self-promotion.”

Indeed, there are few people in Victoria who have not benefited from Jones’ generosity, Brett says.

“He has always been the champion of the underdog, and he always loves helping people. He’s always been motivated to be a good citizen of the community, and he has just donated thousands of hours of his time, dollars of his own money and given free advice, whether it be legal or professional advice, to countless organizations.

“I’ve tried to figure it out my whole life and marvelled at it,” Brett says. “He has big, big shoes to fill.”

Those unable to attend the dinner may donate to the George Jones Scholarship Fund. For details, visit www.facebook.com/GeorgeJonesTestimonialDinner, or email brettjones@shaw.ca.

emccracken@vicnews.com

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