CENTRALIA — William Michael “Mike” Jones, 71, of Centralia went to be with the Lord on Saturday, March 28, 2020, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Centralia at 11:54 a.m.
Mike was born June 3, 1948, in Centralia, the beloved son of Jeanne Jones and the late Edward “Sonny” F. Jones Jr. He married the love of his life, Sheree Rose Springer on October 2, 1982, thus celebrating 37 years of life together.
Mike was preceded in death by his father Edward “Sonny” Jones Jr, grandparents Edward F. Sr. and Gertrude Jones, and grandparents Fred and Louise Hellmeyer.
Mike was baptized at the First United Methodist Church in Centralia as a child, confirmed into the church as a teenager, and remained a faithful member serving on various committees including Pastor Parish, Board of Trustees, and Finance. He was a Sunday School teacher for many years and his beautiful tenor voice graced the choir for over 56 years.
He graduated from Centralia High School in 1966, Kaskaskia College in 1968, and the University of Illinois in 1970 with a degree in communications. He always enjoyed writing and was active in journalism early on as a reporter for the CHS newspaper Sphinx and as editor of the Kaskaskia College Scroll. Mike returned to Centralia to begin his first and only career with the Centralia Sentinel where over the span of 37 ½ years he held many positions including part-time sports reporter, Area Editor, City Editor, Managing Editor, and Senior News Editor. Michael had a solid passion for giving back to the community he had loved as a child by serving on many local boards including the Salvation Army, Centralia History Museum, and the Board of Trustees at St. Mary’s Hospital. It was Mike who spearheaded an effort to return Centralia’s rich tradition of this community’s historic promise for the future through the erection of the sign “Centralia, Your Opportunity” at the corner of Broadway and Oak.
He was considered to be a trusted messenger of the news with his unbiased and integrous reporting. Through the keystrokes of his two-fingered typing skills, Mike served as a host to many stories that impacted the lives of our community. He was considered a fixture at the Centralia Police Station and the eyes and ears of a generation of loyal readers. It was his gifted intellect and talented writing that would showcase the stories he reported, including an annual grocery price check each January, coverage of local events, and interviews with recognizable figures including Jesse Jackson, Sen. Barack Obama, Tiny Tim, Paul W. Tibbits IV, Sir Peter Imbert, the head of Scotland Yard and Sam Walton. He sat in on and reported on so many meetings and gatherings, he was often considered an honorary member of many organizations in the Centralia area.
Mike also possessed a very witty sense which led to many famous April Fool’s stories including Centralia being located on a major international highway, the Concord landing at the Centralia airport, an alligator being loose in Centralia sewers (he even received a phone call from Australia about this story), and the towns of Centralia, Wamac, and Central City merging to become CenWamaCity.
Mike’s first love was meteorology though he chose journalism as his longtime career because “things happen and you never know what’s coming next.” He wasn’t the biggest fan of math and knew that was important for a career in Meteorology. Those who knew Mike best are thankful that math wasn’t his strong suit because he became a staple in the pages of the Centralia Sentinel publications and one of the most trusted journalists who was truly appreciated and respected by the community.
Mike’s passions were reading history books, listening to classical music, traveling the world, watching the St. Louis Cardinals play ball, cuddling with his girlfriends (his cats), and unsurprisingly, tuning into the Weather Channel throughout the day.
A Celebration of Life Gathering will be held from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 6, 2021, at the First United Methodist Church in Centralia. Memorials to the First United Methodist Church of Centralia and the Centralia History Museum will be received at the Sutherland Garnier Funeral Home at 235 North Sycamore Street Centralia, Illinois 62801, 618-532-3523, who is honored to be of service to the Jones family.
Friends and family may visit Mike’s Obituary on sutherlandfuneralhome.com and submit online condolences for the family.