December 3, 2017




Late reverend and activist gets special honor

Rev. Jones' daughter, Janet, left, and her mother, Vivian, stand under the
street sign honoring the late reverend

NEWBURGH – A portion of Washington Street in the City of Newburgh was dedicated to the Reverend Frank E. Jones on Saturday. He left a legacy of social activism in the city behind when he passed away in 2013.

Rev. Frank E. Jones Way will now be located between South Johnston and Liberty Streets in its namesake’s honor. A ceremony was held at the Heaven Bound Church of Deliverance before the new street was unveiled, where local political figures and members of Rev. Jones’ family spoke with high regard for the pastor who fought to change housing and education in the city.

Former Mayor Nicholas Valentine recounted a time where he and Rev. Jones took on a cleanup project in the area while Valentine was involved with the local chamber of commerce.

“He showed up on a Saturday morning at 8 a.m. in jeans, a sweatshirt, cap and gloves and said, ‘let’s go’,” said Valentine. “He said, ‘if I can’t do it, why would anybody else want to do it.’ He could cross all these lines and was willing to work with anyone to get the job done.”

“Later on, I got involved in politics,” the former mayor went on to say, “but I never forgot that it’s those simple things you do on a Saturday morning that make a difference in the community.”
Rev. Jones’ can-do attitude paved the way for progress in the city. The Varick Homes housing project was established in 1972 because of his tireless efforts throughout the previous decade in organizing a housing development fund, and the Head Start program that was sponsored via his nonprofit organization, the Newburgh Community Action Committee, Inc., came about two years later. Both still exist today.

City Councilwoman Cindy Holmes presided over the ceremony preceding the street unveiling, and marveled at the magnitude of the impact Rev. Jones’ efforts continue to have on the city.

“Rev. Jones is the legacy of the city,” she said. “When I look at Head Start and the many people working there, I think of Rev. Jones.”

Orange County Legislator Curlie Dillard presented a proclamation from Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus to Rev. Jones’ widow, Vivian Love Jones.

Dr. Eugene Jones, the pastor for the church in which the ceremony was held, offered kind words for the reverend with whom he shares the same last name.
“It’s good to have the same name as someone that is being remembered in our city,” he said. He referred to the deceased reverend as a “giant” and a “genius.”

“He could go into any area and make it come alive, because it was in his heart,” he continued.

Rev. Jones’ daughter, Janet, talked about how her father’s legacy had a personal impact on her.

“When dad would come home from work, I would hear lots of stories about many of his different programs,” she said. “He taught me how to be a professional, and I learned from him how to grow as a professional and how to keep programs growing.”

Rev. Jones arrived in the City of Newburgh from his home state of Alabama at the height of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He served his community up until his death as pastor of the AME Zion Church on 109 Washington Street. In 1965, he founded the local chapter of Community Action Committee, Inc., and received several awards for his commitment to civil rights including the NAACP Distinguished Service Award and the Key to the City of Newburgh.



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