MISSOULA, Mont.—Aaron Jones, a man who staunchly supported the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation from its earliest beginnings with both his leadership abilities and philanthropic efforts, died at the age of 92.
Jones served as RMEF’s second chairman of the board and its fourth president. He was also a life member and a Habitat Council member. Jones received the 2001 Wallace Fennell Pate Wildlife Conservation Award, RMEF’s highest honor, for contributions of lasting significance to the Elk Foundation’s mission.
“Without Aaron, there’s a good possibility that we wouldn’t have made it because he stepped up to the plate financially several different times,” said Charlie Decker, RMEF co-founder. “He was really key and critical to the start of RMEF. We had to get Bugle magazine published so we called him to borrow $10,000. He told us to pay him back in a year but in a year we didn’t have it so we went to the bank and borrowed $10,000 and sent it to him. He sent it back to us and said ‘I was just checking you guys out. '”
Jones was born in Texas but was raised in Oregon. He served his country in World War II before graduating from the University of Oregon. Jones founded the Seneca Sawmill Company in 1953. He later founded Seneca Jones Timber Company in 1992. Today, the two Oregon mills employ more than 400 people with production levels exceeding 650 million board feet.
As much as Jones enjoyed working alongside his lumber family, he especially enjoyed getting out in the woods.
“Hunting season was Aaron’s favorite time of the year, and it was the only time you wouldn’t find him hard at work at his desk or out in the mill,” said Marie Jones, Aaron’s wife. “He loved to talk about the hunting trophies that hung on the walls at his office and at his cabin.”
“We got to be great friends. I think we took close to 20 hunting trips together. He was a self-made man and a very special guy,” added Decker.
“Aaron will be remembered for the way he treated people. If he believed in someone, there was no limit to his support of that person. If he believed that something was right, there was no limit to his support of that principle,” added Marie Jones.
Jones is survived by his wife, three daughters, one step-daughter, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service honoring Jones is scheduled for Wednesday, October 1, at Matthew Knight Arena on the University of Oregon campus.