VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Former Mayor and Councilmember Louis Jones has passed away.
According to the City of Virginia Beach, Jones died Saturday. He was 86 when he went into cardiac arrest.
The city says they express their deepest condolences to his family.
Jones served on the Virginia Beach City Council for more than 35 years. He represented the Bayside District.
He served as mayor from May 1, 2018, to November 20, 2018, and July 1, 1982, to June 30, 1984, and as vice mayor from November 1, 2001, to April 30, 2018.
According to the city's website, Jones was a member and former chairman of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. He was also a former chairman of the Hampton Roads Metropolitan Planning Organization.
He served as the city council liaison to the Atlantic Park Community Development Authority, Audit Committee, Bayfront Advisory Commission, Development Authority, Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, Lake Gaston Water Task Force, Military Economic Development Advisory Committee, Minority Business Council and Stormwater Appeals Board.
Jones was the president and owner of Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home, Inc. and Tidewater Cemetery Corporation.
He attended the College of William & Mary, earning a bachelor's degree in business administration, and is a graduate of the Echols College of Mortuary Science. He was a former president of the Virginia State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers and was a member of Bayside Presbyterian Church.
Former Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms says he saw Jones early Saturday morning as Jones was about to go out and campaign for city council.
"After seeing someone a few hours before they die and him just looking great then a few hours later he is no longer with us, it is a really big shock," Sessoms said.
Sessoms says Jones' death was sudden and unexpected.
"We were both at an event Saturday morning at 10 o' clock, and I was happy to talk to him and he had made his decision he was running. We were very excited about that," Sessoms said.
Sessoms added, "Louis was a very successful business man, not just running the business at the funeral home but he was very wise in his investments."
Sessoms says one of Jones' biggest accomplishments was the Lake Gaston project.
"Probably one of the most important decisions the city has ever made is to move forward with is the Lake Gaston water pipeline. We couldn’t water the grass in Virginia beach. We couldn’t have any development in Virginia Beach because we did not have a good water supply. It was a fight like one would never believe, and Louis is the one who championed Lake Gaston," he said.
Jones' family released the following statement:
Our family is honored and comforted by the outpouring of tributes and kind words shared about my grandfather, Louis. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to the residents of Kings Grant and first responders who relentlessly worked to save his life this past Saturday.
My grandfather loved his position as Councilman for the Bayside District and representing all of Virginia Beach. He served our community with authentic dedication, engagement, and passion for more than four decades. He genuinely cared for The City of Virginia Beach, the employees, and its residents.
My grandfather was always a gentleman and true statesman, always a kind and humble person, and most of all, a loving and devoted family man.
Casey M. Jones, Louis Jones grandson
Current Virginia Beach Mayor Robert M. "Bobby" Dyer released the following on the councilman's passing:
Today, I share with you my heartfelt sadness because of the sudden loss of a great leader and friend in our community. Council Member Louis Jones dedicated decades of service to our community as a former Mayor, Vice Mayor, and council representative for the Bayside District.
His legacy is drawn from so many significant milestones and accomplishments for the city: the Lake Gaston pipeline, a new convention center, expanded growth in recreation centers throughout the city, protection of our coastal resources, and all the many challenges we overcame as a rapidly growing city. His experience and love for his city helped us succeed on so many levels that carried us into the new millennium.
Louis was a true leader, working and leading organizations throughout Hampton Roads: Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, Hampton Roads Metropolitan Planning Organization, Atlantic Park Community Development Authority, Bayfront Advisory Commission, the City’s Development Authority, the Lake Gaston Water Task Force, the Military Economic Development Advisory Committee, the Minority Business Council and the Stormwater Appeals Board. These were just a few of the many groups where Louis gave of his immeasurable time and commitment.
Personally, I very much enjoyed serving on the Virginia Beach City Council with Louis. In 2004 when I came on City Council, he took me under his wing as friend and mentor, and we formed a very strong bond and close friendship. Louis was blessed with extraordinary business acumen and the ability to look at a situation, assess it, and cut to the core of the problem. Above all, his talent to inspire people resulted in so many good things for our city over the years.
Vision, persistence, knowledge, kindness, and love for Virginia Beach and its people were just a few of the characteristics that described Louis. His dedication to Virginia Beach and the Bayside District was limitless. Because of his belief in what he did and his graciousness when working with anyone and everyone, we are a far, far better city. I will miss him more than I can say.
On behalf of all the members of our City Council, as well as the members of the City of Virginia Beach government, I express our condolences and deepest sympathies to his family and loved ones.
Sessoms released the following statement:
He should be remembered for bringing Lake Gaston to Virginia Beach when Virginia Beach didn't have a water source.
Getting permits was a battle but he was persistent and a leader on council.
He helped the city so much to be able to grow because of that.
I was with him at a building dedication earlier today and he was talking about getting ready to run again. I believe he was knocking on doors when he had a heart attack.
Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander released the following statement:
Louis Jones was an extraordinary businessman and public servant. I considered him a mentor, confidant and dear friend. May his memory, loyalty and dedication continue to be a blessing to his family, friends and the City of Virginia Beach.
A public viewing will be held from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 23, at Hollomon-Brown Funeral Home, Princess Anne Chapel. The service and burial will be private.
News 3 has also learned of the timeline to fill Jones' council seat:
- July 8 - Application deadline
- July 12 - Closed session review/candidate interviews
- August 2 - Public interviews
- August 9 - Public comment
- August 9 or 16 - Council vote
The seat is to be filled until December 31.