The legacy of former Friday Harbor Mayor David Jones

Contributed photo/Nancy Jones. David Jones shows off his Friday Harbor hat while relaxing in Mexico.

Contributed photo/Nancy Jones. David Jones shows off his Friday Harbor hat while relaxing in Mexico.

Many islanders may remember David Jones walking about town with his black collie. Those daily strolls were one of his favorite activities, according to his wife Nancy. As a Town of Friday Harbor council member from 2002-05 and mayor from 2006-09, he strove to make downtown a beautiful, walkable place.

“You could see the pride he had in the town and being mayor,” said Amy Taylor, Town of Friday Harbor clerk.

Jones was personally invested in Friday Harbor decades before moving there. He and his wife subscribed to the Journal while living in Seattle to keep up on island news. They donated to community projects like building the San Juan Community Theatre. He received his pilot’s license in 1974, which allowed the couple to visit frequently via plane.

“We were flying back to Seattle from one of our visits. There was a beautiful sunset, and David said to me, ‘We are going to live there someday’,” Nancy laughed.

Not long afterward, the couple moved to Friday Harbor.

“He was a very kind and ethical person,” said Carrie Lacher, former mayor of Friday Harbor.

She described Jones as a great listener and receptive to the public. He had the ability to keep contentious meetings respectful.

“His presence set the tone of the meetings,” she said, adding that he became her role model.

When Jones decided not to run for mayor a second term, after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, Lacher said she was incredibly honored that he not only was supportive on a personal level but he also publicly endorsed her mayorial campaign.

Taylor was hired as clerk while Jones was mayor, and noted that he always took time to respond to letters from the public.

“It didn’t matter if it was a compliment or complaint, David would take the time for a card or letter. His attitude was that if someone took the time to comment, the town needed to respond,” Taylor said.

Jones also had a silly side too. He always requested everyone dress up, the fancier the better, for the last meeting of the year. He himself donned a tux and hat.

Anna Marie de Frietas, a former town council member, recalled the first time she met David while he was walking his collie.

“He asked me where I lived. Little did I know I was being recruited for a town council seat,” she laughed. But that wasn’t all. He also wondered if she had a partner; he was looking to fill positions on the town fire department as well.

Jones loved being involved with the fire department and he regretted the fact that he was in Seattle on May 9, 2002, unable to help during the biggest fire in the town’s history that burned Friday Harbor Grocery and several other businesses.

Historic preservation was easily one of his legacies as mayor. Although the Town of Friday Harbor’s Historic Preservation Review Board was actually formed in 1998, he supported the board through his actions both as a council member and mayor. Nancy served on the review board and explained she and her husband always cared deeply about historical preservation.

Friday Harbor turned 100 during his last year as mayor. Lacher and Taylor said he loved being a part of the birthday celebrations.

“He was like a little kid, and cut the carrot cake with his [naval] academy sword,” Taylor said.

He received the 4-foot-long blade after graduating from the naval academy, which is customary. Nancy said Jones cut their wedding cake with that very same sword.

Having a passion for the arts he served as a theatre board member for a number of years.

He did a lot in his life, Nancy noted, but it was his years in Friday Harbor that he enjoyed.

“You can move to Friday Harbor and become everything you wanted to be as a little boy. You can play around in boats, become mayor and be a fireman,” Nancy said.