Willard LeRoss Jones, 99, was called home on Jan. 29, 2021. Born in Virden, New Mexico, on June 9, 1921, he was the fifth of nine children.
LeRoss loved farming. At age 5, he helped his dad harness horses to draw the hand plow. By the time of his death, he watched his son and grandsons farm the same piece of ground with satellite-controlled machinery. He learned the value of hard work and applied this throughout his life. After graduating from Virden High School he served in the Central States Mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
During WWII he was asked to remain on the farm to support war efforts. He met his sweetheart, Elizabeth Ison, on a blind date. Because gas and tires were rationed, their courtship consisted of letters, bus rides, and strolls around the Mesa Arizona Temple grounds, where they were married on Aug. 11, 1944. LeRoss and Elizabeth were blessed with eight children who were the center of their lives.
LeRoss was involved in the community and was on the Board of Directors at Lordsburg’s Western Bank for many years. He enjoyed serving in the Church, where he was a Teacher, High Councilor, Stake Missionary, Bishop, and Patriarch.
In 1983, his beloved wife, Elizabeth, passed away. He married Mabel Stratton Ison on June 16, 1984. They were proud of their large, blended posterity and treated them as one big family. They served missions in Pennsylvania and Mexico City, and later moved to Mesa and served in the temple for more than 20 years.
LeRoss’ love of farming followed him to Mesa, where he farmed his whole back yard, sharing produce with family and friends. He was a gifted poet and appreciated good music. He often sang in quartets and enjoyed singing to his grandchildren. He and Mabel often performed with his harmonica and her accordion.
He spent his final two years on his farm in Virden. Always a farmer, he enjoyed rides around the fields to observe the crops.
LeRoss was dedicated to the Lord. His greatest desire was to love and serve as the Savior. His life is summed up in 2 Timothy 4:7: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”
He survived by his wife, Mabel; his children, Wendell, Bethleen (Jon) Swapp, Marilyn (Lorin) Price, Eloise (Russell) Gardiner, Stan (Charlene), Melody (Russ) Richins, and Dawnell (Anthon) McLaws; 37 grandchildren; 110 great-grandchildren; 27 great-great-grandchildren, and one, third great-grandchild.
LeRoss was preceded in death by his siblings; his wife, Elizabeth; a baby daughter; a daughter-in-law; one grandson, and two great-grandsons.
Services will be held on Saturday, Feb. 13, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Duncan Stake Center, with the viewing from 9 until 10:30 a.m. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m., with burial in the Virden Cemetery. A live stream of the service will be held on The McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel Facebook page.
Arrangements are under the direction of McDougal’s Caldwell Funeral Chapel & Gila Valley Crematory. Online condolences may be extended at www.caldwellfuneralchapel.com.