By Mickey Furfari
Times West Virginian
Dennis R. Jones, an end on West Virginia University’s football teams from 1955-57, now resides with wife Trudy in Brentwood, Tenn.
At 77 years old, he’s a retired Army major general.
Jones was a native of the Fairmont area, and earned All-State recognition on outstanding football teams at Monongah High School. His head coach was Jim Feltz.
After graduating, Jones received a scholarship to WVU and played a year under Quinten Barnette on the 1954 freshman team as the NCAA required. In 1955, Jones began a three-year stint of varsity action under head coach Art “Pappy” Lewis.
He graduated from the university with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in June 1958, and then enlisted in the U.S. Army followed by a most distinguished 35 years of military services.
“I was in the artillery and involved in engineering,” Jones said in a telephone interview. “When I retired, I had attained the rank of major general.”
Obviously, that’s a rare achievement and distinguished honor for an alumnus of any institution and West Virginia native.
He retired from active military duty in 1997.
Gen. Jones also worked 15 years for Alcoa Aluminum Co. in New York, but the firm was actually based in Canada.
He and his family have resided in Tennessee since 1992.
Asked whether he enjoyed his years back home at Monongah High and WVU, Jones replied emphatically, “Absolutely! Absolutely! Those were some of the best years of my life, both academically and athletically. I have absolutely no regrets.”
When Jones was in the Army, they found out that he had played football in college. So he was urged to coach his base’s team in Germany. Gene Corum, then head coach at WVU, happened to be in Europe and sent some of his own plays and other information to Jones that he used in military team competition.
“My team played others composed of U.S. military forces, and mine advanced to the finals and lost in the championship game played in Berlin.”
Trudy Jones, a native of Shinnston, and Dennis have been happily married for 56 years. They have two grown daughters.
Those are Shirley Boushell and Melissa Jones. One lives in Oregon, the other in New Jersey.
The major general recalled that in WVU preseason practice at Jackson’s Mill, meal plates were set upside down in the dining room, and coach “Pappy” Lewis would smash one with his hand if a player “messed up” and had to be sent home.
Jones obviously still gets a kick from that.
The 6-foot-5, 210-pound end also remembers being the first Mountaineer gridder to become the victim of a new officiating rule.
“It prohibited running into an opposing player with your helmet and tackling him to the ground,” Jones explained. “I was penalized, and ‘Pappy’ let me know he was not happy.”