Matthew Lee Jones was born on Dec. 18, 1935 to the late Edgar Matthew Jones and Georgia Ann Rivers Jones. He was raised in the Lily Valley community with his four siblings, Aubrey, Mary, Odis and Redelia. As the 2nd oldest child, Matthew was a friendly person with a big heart, who loved people and likewise was “very likeable” by everyone in the community. He had a great sense of humor and he liked to tease and play tricks on siblings and friends.
Matthew was considered an obedient child who loved helping his parents by plowing the fields. Matthew was also known to be a religious child. Around 13 years old, after hearing the preacher at church one Sunday, the following day he preached the same message to his siblings, shouting and crying saying “Can you trust him? Can you trust him?” The very next week during a revival, Matthew gave his life to the Lord, uniting with the Antioch AME Church.
He also liked listening to music on the radio. His Uncle Ulysses recognized his musical talent of singing and gave him a guitar to share with his brother. He was given a true gift from the Lord of being able to teach himself how to play the guitar, and subsequently the piano.
Matthew began his schooling at the Lily Valley Elementary School and graduated from Harper High School. After high school, he attended Bishop State College in Mobile, prior to attending Alabama State College (now known as Alabama State University (ASU)), where he received his Bachelor of Science degree. He was a hard worker and in order to provide for his education, he worked several jobs including cutting hair for students. While at ASU, Matthew met and later married the love of his life, Bettye Stroud.
At the age of 22, Matthew became a teacher at Coffeeville High School. He was later transferred to Harper High School and finally to Jackson High School where he taught Social Studies. In transitioning to Jackson High School, he became the first black coach for the school’s football and basketball programs. Matthew retired from teaching and coaching after 32 years. He then started working at Merchants Bank until his final retirement 10 years later.
Matthew had many hobbies which included gardening, hunting and fishing, but most of all he enjoyed watching his favorite sports teams.
Matthew’s love of singing and playing instruments led him to become a part of the quartet group known as the Evening Stars. He traveled with the group for more than 40 years. He also played piano for several churches, which included Antioch AME Church, New St. Matthew and St. John Baptist churches. Prior to moving to Huntsville in 2017, Matthew joined and utilized his talents at the Jackson SDA Church.
Matthew was preceded in death by his parents, Edgar and Georgia Jones; his brothers, Aubrey Jackson and Odis Jones; and his sister, Redelia Nottingham.
He leaves to cherish his memory, his loving wife of 62 years, Bettye Stroud Jones; his six children, Daryl Jones (Dedra), Ronald Jones (Cheryl), Angelo Jones (Kathy), Lemoyne Jones (Linda), Alicia Jones Juzang (Guy) and Quinton Jones (Glenda); 17 grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren; one sister, Mary Jones Johnson; one brother-in-law, John Stroud (Valerie); three sisters-in-law, Ossie Heath-Crump, Jacqueline McNeil and Mary Stroud, along with a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
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