Distinguished Mercer University alumnus, trustee and respected attorney Frank C. Jones died Aug. 29 in Macon at the age of 87. Serving his first term on the Mercer Board of Trustees at the time of his death, Jones was a 1950 graduate of the Walter F. George School of Law, coming to Mercer after earning his bachelor’s degree at Emory University in 1947. He served as editor in chief of the Mercer Law Review.
“Frank Jones lived a full and meaningful life,” Mercer President William D. Underwood said. “He made a difference in his community and in the lives of his loved ones, clients, and many friends. And he tirelessly served the institutions he loved. Frank was among Mercer’s most distinguished and faithful alumni. He will be missed.”
Following graduation from Mercer, Jones practiced in Macon until 1977 at the law firm now known as Jones, Cork & Miller, which was founded by his great grandfather. Jones eventually made partner before joining King & Spalding in Atlanta, where he served as chairman of the policy committee and head of the litigation department. He retired as an active partner Dec. 31, 2001, returning to Macon and continuing to practice Of Counsel at his original firm.
As a leader in his profession, Jones was named a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1971 and later served as president from 1993-1994. Jones’s service to the legal community included membership in the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society, Georgia Judicial Qualifications Committee, American Bar Association, State Bar of Georgia, and Macon Bar Association, among others.
In service to the local community, Jones was a trustee emeritus at Emory, as well as a trustee of the Carter Center and Wesleyan College, where he served 32 years, including a term as chairman of the board from 1980-1986.
His service to Mercer also included membership on the Law School Board of Visitors. At Law Day 1995, he was recognized with the Law School’s Outstanding Alumnus Award, and, in 1996, he received an honorary Doctor of Laws for his contributions to the University and the legal community.
In addition, Jones partnered with fellow law alumnus Judge Griffin B. Bell and other attorneys at King & Spalding to establish the Frank Cater Jones Endowed Scholars Fund to provide scholarships to attract and retain outstanding law students. A group of his friends recently created the Frank C. Jones Re-Enactment Series Attendance Fund, which honors Jones’s service as president emeritus of the U.S. Supreme Court Historical Society.
“As a newly graduated lawyer, I spent my first year as a law clerk to Judge Griffin Bell,” recalled David Hudson, chairman of Mercer’s Board of Trustees. “In the fall of 1971, I rode with the judge to South Georgia for the convening of a three-judge federal court considering a constitutional challenge to some aspect of the school system in Sumter County. As we talked about the case, discussion went to the lawyers on either side. Judge Bell remarked that I was going to have the privilege of seeing in action one of the state's very best lawyers, and I should learn from the experience. As usual, Judge Bell was absolutely right. Frank Jones was that lawyer and was then and remained throughout his career the gold standard in trial and advocacy skills and service to the profession and to our state and nation.”
“Although I believe words like ‘superstar’ and ‘giant’ are used too freely today, Frank truly was a legal superstar and a legal giant,” said Gary Simson, Macon Professor of Law and dean of Mercer’s Walter F. George School of Law. “The imprint that he has left on the legal profession and on our system of justice is extraordinary. No less remarkable is the grace, modesty, and humanity with which he did it. As a person, he was a superstar and giant as well. His passing is a very sad day for the law school.”
Jones was a member of Vineville United Methodist Church in Macon with his wife, Annie Anderson Jones, a 1951 College of Liberal Arts graduate. He previously served as chairman of the church’s administrative board as well as the board of trustees. For more than 60 years, Jones taught adult Sunday School classes between churches in Macon and Atlanta.
Jones is survived by his wife, Annie, their four children, seven grandchildren and one great grandchild.