Thomas Jones Obituary (1935-2021) – Greensboro, NC

Jones, Jr., Thomas Owen

June 24, 1935 – October 11, 2021

In the early morning hours of October 11, 2021, Dr. Thomas O. Jones Jr., a scholar, a gentleman, an adventurer, a good man not afraid of economic venture, and above all a trustworthy friend to those who knew him. He and his wife Nancy Collins enjoyed traveling with friends to Turkey, Greece, Italy, Ireland and Sweden.

Dr. Jones was a Distinguished Professor of Business at Carolina University, Winston-Salem, NC. Before joining Carolina University, he was the dean of two business schools and founded the business program at Greensboro College. As the founder, former CEO and Chairman of BillPayers, Inc, a pioneer in electronic bill payment, Dr. Jones poured a tremendous amount of experience and expertise into the study of business and leadership.

Tom’s formal education included a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and a doctorate in business administration from George Washington University. In academia, he has been actively involved in the publication of articles and business reports that have appeared in journals such as the Harvard Business Review and presented his research at conferences in the United States.

Growing up in Arlington, VA, his father was a pastor of the Calvary Baptist Church. His high school rowing team won the Schoolboy National Rowing Championship in both his junior and senior years. He continued his athletic endeavors for four years at the University of Pennsylvania and was active in both the soccer and rowing teams; the rowers won the Grand Challenge Cup at the British Henley; the world championship in non-Olympic years. Tom won silver medals at the 1952 and 1956 Olympics (double sculls). In the service of his country, Dr. Jones is a naval aviator who, as part of his duty, flew aircraft carrier fighters in both the Atlantic and Pacific fleets.

Dr. Jones served in his ward as a Presbyterian elder, a former Young Men’s Bible Class teacher at the First Presbyterian in Greensboro, and a member of the board of directors of North Carolina Prison Ministries. He was actively involved with Kiwanis and Rotary, as well as United Way and The Salvation Army.

After serving as a fighter pilot in the Navy, Petroleum Helicopters (PHI) of Lafayette, LA hired him as a commercial helicopter pilot, flying for oil companies in some of the world’s most remote regions.

In this four-year company he flew to many parts of the world for various oil companies. During a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, he was trapped on a small sentry about 160 miles offshore and in winds in excess of 130 miles per hour. After lashing his helicopter and himself to the landing deck, he watched all night as green water broke over the deck and his helicopter was about 18 meters above normal water level. When he came ashore the next day, he changed his direction and became a student at what is now the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, LA. He became a test pilot for the PHI and completed a bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics.

George Washington University was his next stop and to make a living he became Captain Dan in the 1260 helicopter that broadcast morning and evening rush hour traffic to WWDC radio. There he earned his MBA and PhD in business administration and went to the Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT as Associate Professor of Management. He then became Assistant Dean and Acting Dean of the College of Business at Loyola University in New Orleans. Here he met an artist who motivated him to start an art company that became Galleries One with 22 retail locations in major cities. He became the dean who accredited the Eastern Illinois University School of Business from the AACSB. After four years, the art business grew to the point that he had to leave academia to become full-time CEO.

Dr. Jones was previously Fred L. Proctor, Sr. Distinguished Professor of Business and Chairman, Division of Business at Greensboro College, Greensboro, North Carolina, and a strategist at Staub Leadership Consultants. He also served on the founding faculty of the Executive MBA program at Queens University, Charlotte, North Carolina, and served on the Executive MBA faculties at Wake Forest University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina.

He moved the arts and crafts headquarters to Greensboro, NC, where he became a lecturer at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. He then began his professorship at Greensboro College, where he developed the business program, designed the courses, and hired faculty on the program that soon made up 40 percent of total enrollment. Together with Mr. Proctor and several other investors, he founded one of the first companies to offer a service for paying bills to private individuals. This company became the First Union National Bank’s bill payment service. A short time later, Bank of America, then Norwest Bank in Minneapolis, which merged with Wells Fargo, used the service. A short time later, CitiBank was the fifth major bank to use the service, and this system now offers all North American banks their bill payment service.

His loving wife, Nancy S. Collins, survived; her sons Douglas Thomsson, Stephen Collins-Thomsson and wife Lindsey, their daughter Cali; W&L friends; academic staff, students and many close friends.

A celebration by Dr. Thomas Owen Jones, Jr. will be held at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 21, 2021 at the Lineberry Center, 515 N. Elm St., Greensboro, NC 27401.

Donations to commemorate Tom can be made to the Guilford County Animal Shelter, 4525 W. Wendover Ave, Greensboro, NC 27409; or to an animal rescue company of your choice.

Expressions of condolences online can be made at

Published by Greensboro News & Record on October 17, 2021.

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