Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

A time to mourn and a time to sing

Open mic night fundraiser held at Mills Seed Co. Building for Ed Jones
Aug 27, 2018
Photo by: Grace King Portraits of Ed Jones, painted after his death, were on sale during an open mic night in his memorial at the Mills Seed Co. building in downtown Washington on Saturday, Aug. 25.

By Grace King, Golden Triangle News Service


The Mills Seed Co. Building in downtown Washington was filled with laughter, tears and lively music Saturday, Aug. 25, as friends and strangers gathered for an open mic night in memory of Ed Jones.

It was a celebration of life after Jones’ tragic death on July 11. The night was about sharing music, helping people heal from tragedy and raising money for a bench in Jones’ honor, said Dan Henderson, emcee for the night. The bench, inscribed with Ed Jones’ name, will find a home at Washington High School.

“He was the biggest Demon fan,” Peggy Harris said, who had known Jones as long as she could remember. Just last year, she and her husband walked with him in Relay for Life.

Before musicians took the stage, Tori Sueppel, a co-worker of Jones’ for a decade, displayed a portrait she drew of him. Prints were on sale with proceeds going toward Jones’ memorial fund.

Although Jones had been after Sueppel to paint the portrait, Sueppel didn’t get around to it until after he died. “I got emotional when drawing his smile,” Sueppel said. “He was just always a happy guy,” she recalled.

Henry Eicher played the opening tribute to Jones, including a song he wrote himself. “These are from my memories and this is for Eddie,” Eicher said, debuting “Hello Boys,” the title deriving from how Jones would often greet people.

“I want to give you a hug because I need one too …” Eicher sang as he played an acoustic guitar, a tambourine ringing in the background. “Win or lose, I will be here for you. You’ve got my back and I’ve got yours too,” the song continued.

Transitioning into “Amazing Grace,” many in the audience joined in song.

“He loved to sing ‘Amazing Grace,’” said Ryan Persinger, who used to run into Jones at open mic nights across town. The solo guitarist, who was third on deck to play Saturday night, said it wouldn’t be difficult. “It’s awful what happened, but I only have good memories of Eddie,” he said.

Sherry Swailes, a relative of Jones’, sat quietly at a table in the Mills Seed Co. building, taking in the audience gathering for Jones. “It’s touching,” she said. “I believe a lot of people from the community were like family (to Jones), just as much as his family.”

Hal Colliver, of Westchester, who knew Jones for 40 years, said he was one of a kind, friendly and often funny, even though he was never trying to be.

Other musicians didn’t know Jones personally but were familiar with his friendliness through word-of-mouth. “(I) knew other friends who knew him,” said Tim Smith, who performed during open mic night. “If they thought this was worth doing, that’s all I needed to know about Mr. Jones.”

Clyde Pearce, who only moved to Washington a few months ago and also didn’t know Jones, said he was glad to help out and play his fiddle.

Cailee Wenger, a choir teacher at Washington Middle School, was yet another musician who played Saturday who didn’t know Jones. “It’s an honor to be a part of this fundraiser,” she said. “Even though I didn’t know him, it’s great to play in tribute.”

Wenger chose to sing “Make Me Feel Your Love,” by Adele, “Anyway,” by Martina McBride and “Titanium,” by Sia.

“‘Anyway’ I chose because it’s all about how life might not always be good, but God is always great,” Wenger said.

Sandra Johnson, part-owner of Mills Seed Co. Building, was happy to open up the building for the memorial. In Jones’ “untimely death,” it’s a way for the community to gather in celebration of his life, Johnson said.

Jones’ roommate Clarence Dean Pedersen, 64, is facing first-degree murder charges for his death.

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