Editor’s note: This feature is part of a weekly focus from The Star meant to highlight and remember the lives of Black Kansas Citians who have died.
There are those who enjoy the alley-oops in basketball or double plays and home runs in baseball – but for Dwight Jones it was NASCAR that peaked his interest the most when it came to sports.
From the Daytona 500 to the local Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, family and friends say Jones would often call them to let them know it was “race day”.
Jones’ wife, Freda Jones, says he would be glued to the television watching NASCAR drivers speed around the track, including his favorite driver: #24 Jeff Gordon, who is a four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and five-time Brickyard 400 winner.
“He’d be happy I went with him to the races,” Freda Jones said. “He never got to meet Jeff, but he did get to take a picture next to his car. He loved NASCAR.”
Intrigued by his knowledge of the sport, Jones’ childhood friend since the third grade jokingly reminisces of the times Jones tried to get others interested in NASCAR.
“We’d fall asleep because we couldn’t get into it, but he watched it and knew what he was talking about. It was amazing,” Glenn Winfield said.
Jones died June 24 at Hidden Lake Center in Raytown, Missouri. He was 57 years old.
He was born March 2, 1954, to the union of William and Girlie Jones. He grew up in Kansas City and graduated from Van Horn High School. After high school, Jones attended Penn Valley Community College. Jones was employed with the City of Kansas City for over 20 years.
“He worked in storm water. He loved that job because he was like his own boss,” Freda Jones said. “He worked with sewer drains, he’d unclog them and clean them out.”
Dwight and Freda met in 2003. The two wed on March 7, 2009 and were happily married for 12 years.
“He was very humble, and knew how to treat me,” Freda Jones said. “We enjoyed watching movies together and eating at our favorite restaurants.”
She says her husband was a master on the grill. They would tag-team meals as she prepared the sides and Jones grilled the meat to perfection. Jones truly enjoyed cooking for others. Some of his favorite dishes included oven baked ribs, Cornish hens in his rotisserie, and spaghetti.
As an avid sports fan, Winfield says, cooking was right up Jones’ alley as he was dedicated to throwing Superbowl parties every year.
“He was a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan,” Winfield said. “He didn’t have anything against the Kansas City Chiefs. I didn’t understand that either,” he added with a laugh.
When Jones wasn’t watching NASCAR, the Dallas Cowboys, or attending air shows, he and his wife were involved in their church at Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church.
“Dwight wasn’t in church and I was a member of Greater Faith. I told him where it was because he had to pass the church to go to work,” Freda Jones recalls. “He came one day, joined the church and never left.”
Their Pastor referred to Jones as a “Gentle Giant”. He was an usher, drove the church van, and was part of the male chorus.
“His favorite song was ‘Can’t Stop Praising His Name,’” Freda Jones said.
She says her husband had a love for the people at their church, including the young people he drove in the church van to events and activities. She says youth looked up to Jones because he was very encouraging and uplifting.
“There were a lot of young boys that were coming up in Greater Faith. Dwight was a listening man and wouldn’t try to down talk you. He was well-loved,” Freda Jones said.
Well-loved is how family and friends say Jones will be remembered.
“He was a giver. If he had it, I didn’t have to pay for it,” Winfield said.
Winfield reflects on how kind his childhood friend was.
“Dwight was the kind of person, he’d call me and say meet me here or meet me there for lunch. He’d be like it’s my treat. That’s just how he was,” Winfield said.
“He was a good person. He was a good man. He was just well-loved. He was very humble person,” Freda Jones said.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Williams and Girlie Jones, and host of aunts and uncles.
He is survived by his wife, Freda Jones; daughter, Kiara Jones; foster daughter, Shanta Edelen; foster son, Danta Jones; his best friend, Glenn Winfield; Mother-in-law, Everlena Johnson; grandchildren, James, Jauvante, Jeremiah, and Jaliyah; and host of other relatives and friends.
Cynthia Renee Davis, animal care provider, died June 24. She was 45.
Davis was born March 12, 1976, to Julius and Mildred Davis in Kansas City. She lived with paralysis of the left brain hemisphere. Though she faced challenges, including multiple surgeries, family says she never allowed her health to stop her from pursuing her passions, love and happiness.
Davis was a member of Jamison Temple C.M.E. Church for many years. She was on the usher board and a part of the choir. She was employed in the food industry, and also volunteered for 13 years as an animal care provider.
Family says Davis was one to make people smile with her beautiful sense of humor.
Her favorite color was purple and she enjoyed collecting dolls.
Davis is survived by a daughter; Jaiden Davis; one sister, Erica Davis Sam; two brothers, Henry Awbrey and Willie Awbrey; a special friend and play mother, Rowmay Morrow and a host of nieces, nephews and friends.
Anthony Levern Crump, military veteran, died June 27. He was 70 years old.
Crump was born May 15, 1951, in Hensley, Arkansas, to Theopolis and Garnice Crump.
Affectionately known as “Crump”, he grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, where he graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1969.
Crump joined the Air Force after high school, serving for two years.
Family says he enjoyed life to the fullest as he was a great two-stepper, loved fishing, and enjoyed working with his uncle Henry. The two remodeled homes together.
He is survived by his daughter, Angela Mimbs; a son, Anthony Haygood; six siblings, Marilyn Nelson, Michael Weston, Derrell Hicks, Gerrell Hicks, David Hicks, Jr., and Crystal Freeman; two grandchildren, Britani Barnett and Vania Barnett; one great granddaughter, Peyton Scruggs; and a host of other relatives and friends.
Janell Hewitt, medical worker and neighborhood safety monitor, died June 17. She was 61 years old.
She was born to Frank and Louise Perkins on November 9, 1959 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Hewitt grew up in Kansas City, graduating from Paseo Academy High School. She later went on to work for St. Luke’s Hospital in environmental services. She retired from Research Medical Center.
Family says Hewitt’s passion was to care for others. She volunteered at her place of residence, Paraclete Manor, as a safety monitor for her neighbors. She also assisted with monthly activities, including holiday gatherings and birthday parties.
She is survived by her children Shaundrakia James, Angela Hewitt, Johnnie Hewitt Jr.; siblings, Donald James, Frank James, Sandra McClaine, Tresses Mae Perkins, Louella Perkins, Lonnell Perkins, Wanda Perkins, Stephanie Perkins and Ronnie Perkins; seven grandchildren; and host nieces and nephews, close family and friends.