Russell R. Jones, steel executive

He had been general manager of Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point plant

  • Russell Jones
Russell Jones
September 29, 2014|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | The Baltimore Sun

Russell R. Jones, former general manager of Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point plant, died Wednesday of heart failure at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. He was 90.

The son of restaurant owners Russell Wehr Jones and Noelie Delores Richard Jones, Russell Richard Jones was born and raised in Lehighton, Pa., where he graduated in 1941 from high school.

His college studies at Lehigh University were interrupted when he enlisted in the Army Air Forces, where he was trained as a bomber pilot and later trained B-29 pilots.

"The war ended before he went overseas, and he regretted that," said his wife of 18 years, the former Judy Frye.

Mr. Jones returned to Lehigh on the GI Bill of Rights, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1948 in chemical engineering. He then went to work for Bethlehem Steel, working at Sparrows Point early in his 35-year career.

In 1967, he was assigned to the company's Burns Harbor, Ind., facility as assistant general manager, where he helped make the plant one of the nation's newest and most sophisticated steel-making operations.

He returned to Sparrows Point in 1972 when he was appointed assistant general manager. He was named general manager three years later. During his tenure, the L blast furnace that cost in excess of $200 million was built in 1978, as part of an overall $1 billion in improvements.

Mr. Jones retired in 1983.

"He was a quiet and humble man. One day when we were in the doctor's office, a man told him he worked at Sparrows Point," said Mrs. Jones. "Russ said he worked there, too, in a blast furnace. He never told him what he really did. He loved Sparrows Point and the men."

For years, Mr. Jones was active with the Boy Scouts, and in 1964 was presented the Silver Beaver Award, the highest honor given to adult leaders, and the State of Maryland Distinguished Citizen Award for Scouting.

He served as president of the Baltimore Area Council from 1977 to 1978.

Mr. Jones, a longtime Ruxton resident, had been chairman of the board of the United Way of Central Maryland, and was a former board member of the Maryland State Chamber of Commerce and the old First National Bank of Maryland.

He was a member of Hunt Valley Presbyterian Church.

Mr. Jones was a member of Sparrows Point Country Club, where he enjoyed playing golf.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 13 at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Jones is survived by two daughters, Suzan Jones Mecinski of Parkville and Nancy Currier Tuxford of Shrewsbury, Pa.; a sister, Cordelia Sperry of Edison, N.J.; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife of 39 years, the former Margery Currier, died in 1990.

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