Garry Jones, a veteran sports photographer, reporter and editor who also covered local news, died Jan. 3, 2019, at Baptist Health Floyd Hospital in New Albany, Ind., after suffering a heart attack on Dec. 30 at his home in New Albany. He was 64.
Garry Lee Jones was born April 17, 1954, to the late William Ray Jones and Juanita Hanger Jones, and spent most of his life in his Clarksville, Ind., home town. He was a longtime member of Howard Park Christian Church and a 1972 graduate of Clarksville High School, where he remained active in planning alumni events. He attended Indiana University.
In the 1970s, Jones was a correspondent for the Louisville Times and Courier-Journal, specializing in southern Indiana high school sports. He later was sports editor of the New Albany Tribune and the Jeffersonville Evening News, and in 1985, he was named assistant editor and advertising director of Scorecard, a Falsoft publication about University of Louisville athletics. In 1989, Jones traveled with the University of Louisville football team to Tokyo to chronicle its appearance in the postseason Coca-Cola Bowl.
Jones had a deep love for almost all sports, at every level, from preps to pro. In the 1980s, he was an accredited Indiana High School Athletic Association official, umpiring fast-pitch softball and volleyball games, and assisting with Clarksville recreation leagues.
Since the late 1990s, Jones freelanced for Associated Press and was instrumental in the news service’s coverage of college athletics and horse racing; his expertise was so valued on the Triple Crown trail that he was assigned to follow the Kentucky Derby winner to the Preakness in Baltimore and sometimes on to the Belmont Stakes in New York. A scan of the more than 6,000 photos on the AP Images site shows that Jones captured great moments in history, from Justify and American Pharoah’s Triple Crown races to a “bout” with Muhammad Ali. He photographed a First Lady (Laura Bush), celebrities, coaches, tornado damage, PGA golf, NASCAR and NCAA championship games, both men’s and women’s. He was a contributing photographer for the Voice-Tribune in Louisville and several racing publications. Jones also was a longtime associate at Murphy’s Camera, often giving his sage advice and assistance.
For the past four years, Jones worked for Bellarmine University’s sports information office, covering nearly every Knights home game. According to Bellarmine Sports Information Director John Spugnardi, Jones “never failed to deliver quality photographs and his images have accompanied well over 1,000 news stories and social media posts for Bellarmine.” Jones’ last assignment was shooting the Bellarmine-Martin Methodist men's basketball game on Dec. 29.
In a sentiment echoed throughout the sports venues where Jones worked, Spugnardi said he “was always a friendly, positive presence on game days. Seemingly in a perpetual good mood, Garry greeted nearly everyone with a smile and treated all with dignity and respect. He possessed a warm chuckle that immediately befriended anyone he came into contact with.”
In the thoroughbred racing community, Jones was known for his generosity and willingness to extend a helping hand, even to photographers who might have been considered competitors. He also seemed to know every trainer, rider, assistant, security guard, veterinarian and groom on the backstretch – and he was diligent in making sure they were properly identified in photos along with the equine stars that they cared for.
Services for family and friends will be on Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 3:30 p.m. at Howard Park Christian Church in Clarksville. The Rev. Randy Smith will officiate. A memorial service to celebrate Jones’ professional life and accomplishments will be held in early spring