By Daniel C. Houston
An Austin-based teen support group will honor the chair of Baylor’s Board of Regents and his wife Saturday for the example they set through their marriage and their contributions to improving the lives of others.
Organizers of “A Day to Shine,” a fashion show and live auction benefiting the National Dating Abuse Helpline, will honor Neal “Buddy” Jones and his wife Ginny with the LifeStyle Award.
The award honors those who promote positive relationships “through strength of character, inspirational leadership and service to others,” according to the organization’s website.
The Joneses, who have been active contributors to the helpline and a number of other philanthropies for years, are also being recognized because of how they moved past the death of their first-born son, Trey, 23 years ago, Julie Stevenson, chair of the event, said.
“They have a very, very strong marriage, but it hasn’t been an easy marriage,” Stevenson said. “They lost a child early; their first-born died between the ages of 2 and 3. I have no experience with that, but I can’t imagine experiencing it. That’s the kind of thing that so many times can destroy a marriage, but for them it didn’t. Their faith in God is what got them through that.”
They now have five living children and have been married 27 years.
Buddy Jones confirmed religious faith played a major role in his family’s ability to cope with the loss.
“[Faith] was the only thing that gave us the comfort, the strength, the fortitude and the will to work through the loss of a child,” Buddy Jones said.
“I’m told that the loss of a child is the worst kind of loss that any individual can have, more so than the loss of a spouse or a parent or a sibling.
The only way I think you can really successfully get through it … is with a faith in Jesus Christ and a strong belief that God has a plan for all of us and that he turns even the bad things and uses them for good.”
Buddy Jones said he hopes his receiving the award will bring more attention to the cause of preventing abuse in relationships.