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In Memoriam: John Arthur Jones 1921-2014

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  • | 10:40 a.m. August 22, 2014
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Tampa attorney John Arthur Jones, a World War II veteran who served under Gen. George Patton, ran tight meetings at prominent law firm Holland & Knight.

So tight that in the late 1970s he instituted a five-minute rule for speakers. “If your five minutes ran out,” says Holland & Knight Tampa executive partner Brad Kimbro, “you were done talking.”

Participants followed Jones' rules. They also jokingly called him the Ayatollah — a nod to the ironfisted Iranian leader making global news. Jones got word of the joke and one day he came to work dressed like Ayatollah. “He enjoyed practicing law,” says Kimbro, “and he enjoyed living life.”

Jones died Aug. 12 at his Tampa home. He was 92.

A Pasco County native with four children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, Jones leaves a lasting legacy on Holland & Knight, in addition to his family and the Florida legal community. Kimbro says Jones came into the office and worked cases, even in his late 80s and early 90s.

Jones joined Knight, Thompson & Turner, a Tampa law firm, in 1949. In 1968 he worked with legendary Florida attorney Chesterfield Smith, with the Holland law firm in Lakeland, to form a combined entity. Holland & Knight now has more than 1,000 lawyers worldwide.

Jones was also a statewide expert in banking, real estate and probate law. He chaired the Florida Probate and Guardianship Forms Committee and developed what's widely considered the most comprehensive set of probate and guardianship forms in the country. That effort landed Jones a second nickname: Mr. Probate.

Kimbro says within the firm Jones was known as an adventurous yet fatherly figure. He loved gliding — a picture of him in the skies, taken a few years ago — hangs on a wall in Holland & Knight's Tampa office. He also enjoyed taking new attorneys to lunch, where he often talked about integrity and the law. Jones fondly would tell attorneys, “you can't afford not to be honest and not do your best.”

And meeting rules aside, Kimbro says Jones excelled at a tough task: Getting lawyers to get along. “He was the voice of reason,” says Kimbro. “He was able to keep everyone calm.”

Jones pre-law life was also remarkable. He served in European Theater in World War II under the command of Patton's Third Army, where he received a Bronze Star for his actions in the Battle of Metz, France.

“John was just a great person,” Kimbro says. “People like to say that about anyone who dies, but he really was a great person.”


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