"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to honor the life and memory of Dr. Horace Perry Jones, a legendary figure in the history of the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM). Dr. Jones taught history at ULM for nearly five decades, from 1965 until his retirement in May of last year. During that span, he touched the lives of tens of thousands of students, each of whom walked away from his class with much more than just lessons in history. Dr. Jones passed away on Tuesday, March 19, 2013, at the age of 83.
"Dr. Jones's passion for life was evident to all who encountered him and who knew his remarkable story. A native of North Carolina, Dr. Jones served in the U.S. Marine Corps and fought in the Korean War under the revered general, Lewis "Chesty" Puller. His adventures did not end after leaving the Marines, and he carried his "Semper Fi" spirit with him for the rest of his life. In addition to vigorously pursuing his extensive education in history, Dr. Jones hitchhiked across the globe, traveling through Europe, the Middle East, Southwest Asia, India, the Far East, and through the Panama Canal. He taught at the American School in London before eventually returning to the U.S. After earning his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi, in 1965 he accepted a position with Northeast Louisiana State College--today known as the University of Louisiana at Monroe, a school Dr. Jones came to love as much as it loved him.
"For the next 47 years he dazzled his students and community with a magical combination of history, humor, and unreserved passion for life. Outside the classroom, Dr. Jones was a local icon. He could easily be spotted driving his antique yellow Volkswagen on campus and across town. It was not an unusual sight to see Dr. Jones standing under a campus tree's canopy, beneath his mounted boar's head, reciting his poetry to a crowd of mesmerized students. On days of home football games, he was often spotted wandering the Grove among tailgaters, carrying a large can labeled with unmentionable motivational language. Even the Stubbs Hall office he occupied was celebrated--cramped with bizarre artifacts, classroom props, and hundreds of books he had read cover to cover.
"But for all he was recognized for outside the classroom, most will remember Dr. Jones for his role inside the classroom. There he brought history to life, and brought life into perspective. He was well known to have a few students carry him into class in a coffin, only for him to suddenly jump out and surprise his perplexed audience. It was not unusual for him to show up to class wearing a weathered graduation cap and gown, or excessively baggy and faddish "Jnco" blue jeans, or a "Rage Against the Machine" t-shirt. In his classes he would leap off desks, swing yardsticks as swords, scream, cry, laugh, and teach the most passionate lessons of history imaginable.
"As exciting as his classes could be, he was a very serious teacher. His lessons were strategically emphasized with props, chalkboard drawings, and his massive Cold War era fabric map, which he hauled from class to class for decades and draped across his classroom walls. His book reports and handwritten tests could be challenging, but not nearly as much as his notorious "map tests," on which students were required to label each country and sea in the world.
"Perhaps the most special moments of his classes were on the final class of each semester, when Dr. Jones would weave the poetry of Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" in with his incredible story of his trek across the planet. After that class, if a student had not already recognized it before, he realized that he was a fortunate soul to have had the unique privilege to study from this extraordinary man, who not only taught history, but lived it, and who not only lived, but redefined how life should be lived.
"Dr. Jones will undoubtedly be missed by the many who knew and loved him. But though his life on Earth is now over, his spirit, legend, and legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of the untold thousands whose lives he touched."