by Don Corrigan
Trail Blazers: The Free-Spirited and Extraordinary Lives of Ted and Pat Jones tells the story of the philanthropy and business savvy of an incredible couple. They also left an incredible natural legacy for Missourians.
I recommend reading this book from finish to start. That’s because once you realize the extent of what they have given us in Missouri (which is cataloged at the end of the book), then you will be more motivated to read how it all happened earlier in the book.
So, what did Ted and Pat Jones give us:
• A 240-mile long Katy Trail that attracts 400,000 hikers and cyclists annually. The beauty of this trail – whether in wine country, or the forests near Boonville, or the river cliffs of Rocheport – is simply astounding.
• Prairie Fork, the fabulous Jones Farm north of the Missouri River. The acreage has prairie, wetlands, slightly forested woodlands edged with beautiful wildflowers. Three different ecosystems can be enjoyed.
• The Ted and Pat Jones Confluence Point State Park, where visitors can witness where the Mississippi and Missouri rivers meet, and where westward expansion in the United States began.
• Hilda’s Pristine Wilderness in the LaBarque Creek Watershed. It’s almost three times more diverse with flora and fauna than any of the fifteen other tributaries of the Meramec River below LaBarque.
This book is about how Ted and Pat Jones were able to bring this natural legacy together. And the anecdotes about that effort, especially in the second half of the book, are informative, very often hilarious, and always inspiring.
As author Jeannette Cooperman and Dan Burkhardt of Magnificent Missouri note, these are two people who could have done anything, lived anywhere. They chose to plant trees and prairies. They supported the many causes in Misslouri. One of them had a name that would become synonymous with finance and investing. Surprisingly, neither of them cared much about accumulating money.
They both had great minds. They also freely spoke their minds. Sometimes what came out of their minds, and mouths, totally startled others.
This reader laughed out loud when the capitalist and entrepreneur Ted Jones called himself a “communist” at one of his final corporate meetings, while at Edward Jones Inc. before his death.
“Well, think about it,” Ted Jones said. “What does pure communism stand for? Pure communism suggests that people who create the value that is the organization should own the value they create. The communists had it right. They just executed the people, instead of the plan.”
This reader also laughed out loud many times at the way Pat Jones could make important people uncomfortable by simply stating the truth. She stated the truth many times in confronting unscrupulous developers, dam builders, and nuclear power advocates. She thought all of them were scarring the land.
Her parody of a Joyce Kilmer poem in confronting the Missouri Highway Department over its lax policies on billboards is memorable: “I think that I shall never see, a billboard lovely as a tree. Perhaps unless the billboards fall, I’ll never see a tree at all.“
Pat Jones could “whisper” horses, dogs, and any human eager to learn about and appreciate the natural world. Ted Jones was a farmer at heart, who built a prosperous organization that shared the wealth for Missouri.
Ted and Pat Jones lived simply, abhorred waste, ignored convention. According to Dan Burkhardt of Magnificent Missouri, what they cared about was creating places where visitors from around the world – people they would never know – could experience – the rich nature of Missouri and enjoy its peaceful countryside.
The publisher of Trail Blazers, Magnificent Missouri, now works to conserve and enhance the Katy Trail corridor along the last 100 miles of the Missouri River valley – from Hermann to the Confluence. All proceeds from book sales go to Magnificent Missouri to continue this effort.
A double biography, Trail Blazers is a story of love, bold business savvy and a kind of common sense that is fast vanishing. Thanks to Ted and Pat Jones, it is also funny with notable cover comments from former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Gov. Jay Nixon and Penny Pennington, Managing Partner, Edward Jones.
Books are available at most bookstores. For more information, check out the Magnificent Missouri website.