Editor's note: This article was updated at 11:50 a.m. Friday, May 15, 2020, with more information.
PINE KNOLL SHORES — The town has lost a long-standing civil servant. Mayor Ken Jones, remembered as an enthusiastic champion for Pine Knoll Shores and the Crystal Coast, died Thursday at his home. He was 61 years old.
Town staff issued a release shortly after noon Thursday announcing the mayor’s death.
He is survived by his mother, Grace Jones, and special friend, Raymonda Ibrahim.
A private Mass is set for Wednesday at St. Egbert Catholic Church in Morehead City. The town of Pine Knoll Shores is also planning a celebration of his life and service, set for Thursday. Munden Funeral Home of Morehead City is handling arrangements. His full obituary can be found on Page 3A.
“Mayor Jones served the town of Pine Knoll Shores for many years in multiple capacities and will be deeply missed,” Assistant Town Manager Julie Anderson said in the announcement. In a phone interview with the News-Times, Ms. Anderson said the mayor’s death was “shocking to everyone.”
No further details on his death have been released.
Just prior to his death, Mayor Jones had presided over the regular town board of commissioner’s meeting Wednesday evening. Commissioner Ted Goetzinger said Thursday he’d sat next to the mayor that night.
“Ken seemed as happy as he’s ever been,” Mr. Goetzinger said. “I’ve known Ken for 25 years; five years ago, he was instrumental in getting me to run again (for reelection).”
Mr. Goetzinger said he’s never “seen anyone as beloved as Ken was.”
“He was a champion of a lot of things in this town,” the commissioner said. “Ken never met a microphone he didn’t like. He had a wicked sense of humor.”
Mr. Goetzinger said two of Mayor Jones’ strong suits were how much residents loved him and how much he cared for Pine Knoll Shores.
“He really pushed volunteerism and praised the town staff,” the commissioner continued. “The town’s going to go on, (but) there’s going to be a void for a long time.”
Mayor Jones had served for more than decade and was reelected in 2019 for his latest term. In 2012, he was a Republican candidate for the N.C. Senate.
Mayor Jones was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and served twice at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
With his death, Mayor Pro Tem Clark Edwards now assumes the mayoral duties for the town until further notice.
In Indian Beach, just west of Pine Knoll Shores, Mayor Stewart Pickett said Thursday he’s “shocked like everyone else” at the news of Mayor Jones’ death.
“I worked closely with Ken for many years,” Mayor Pickett said. “We worked well together; he will be greatly missed.”
Mayor Pickett remembered Mayor Jones as an early riser, often surprising him with unexpected visits.
“He was a gentle soul,” Mayor Pickett said.
Carteret County Commission Chairman Bill Smith said Mayor Jones will be “sorely missed” by his friends, family and the residents of Pine Knoll Shores.
“Ken and I had become friends over the years with me serving on the commission and him as mayor,” Commissioner Smith said. “…He was a great leader for Pine Knoll Shores and did good things for the town from what I can tell.”
In Atlantic Beach, Mayor Trace Cooper said he and the other Bogue Banks mayors worked closely with Mr. Jones over the years and they had become close friends.
“He put the safety and well being of the citizens of Pine Knoll Shores above all else. Pine Knoll Shores and Bogue Banks are better places because of his leadership,” he said. “I’ll miss him as a colleague and I’ll miss him as a friend.”
Further west along Bogue Banks, Emerald Isle Mayor Eddie Barber said he, too, was shocked by the news of Mayor Jones’ death. He said he and Mayor Jones had met through the Carteret County Mayor’s Association.
“Ken and I were good friends,” Mayor Barber said. “I’m sorry to hear about it. I have very good memories of him. I know the town will miss him a great deal.”
Mayor Barber said he remembers working with Mayor Jones through various hurricanes, as well as through the current novel coronavirus pandemic.
“Ken was very dedicated,” Mayor Barber said. “My heartfelt sympathy goes out to his family and the people of Pine Knoll Shores. He was a good and faithful servant.”
Reporters Jackie Starkey and Elise Clouser contributed to this report.
Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.