Sam Jones, 74, a longtime Lexington activist for civil rights and equity in education who also worked in radio and television, died Saturday at St. Joseph Hospital.
In 1997, he helped form Black United Families for Education Reform, with goals of improving education for black students and children from low-income families in Fayette County schools and fostering better relationships between the parents of those children and the schools.
"The most significant thing about him was that he spoke truth," said Arnold Gaither, who was part of that effort and now leads the One Community, One Voice initiative, which is aimed at closing the achievement gap.
He described Mr. Jones as "a person that was dedicated to the uplifting of his community."
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"You could believe what Sam said," said P.G. Peeples, who also was part of the equity movement. "Sam's a tremendous loss to this community."
Mr. Jones worked in the publishing department at IBM for 30 years before retiring in 1993.
But he also had a pioneering career in local radio and television.
Radio personality and former WLEX-TV anchor Sue Wylie said Mr. Jones was among the first black news anchors in Lexington, working for WLEX as a weekend anchor for the 11 p.m. news. He also hosted a regular television show called Focus on Minorities during the 1970s.
"He was a charming man, very witty and very wise," Wylie said. "He thought about things. He was a profound kind of person."
Mr. Jones was a native of Lexington and a 1956 graduate of Dunbar High School. He studied radio arts at the University of Kentucky and served two years in the Army.
He is survived by his wife, Beverly Jean Ray Jones, and a daughter, Sammie Abeni Jones.
Services will be at noon Friday at Milward Funeral Directors' funeral home on Trent Boulevard.
Visitation be 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday.