Remembering Dr. Dan Jones

This weekend in Commerce, there will be a 5K run and event honoring the late Dr. Dan Jones, our Alma Mater’s President from 2009-2016. During that time, our institution grew exponentially in enrollment, endowment, and some great things happened. Our Education school was ranked number 1 in the State of Texas and 13th in the entire nation. Our storied Football program came back to national prominence, and did just about all our athletics. Our Graduate Business Program was named among the tops in the entire country. Alums that had not been back in years were coming back, and there was a sense of pride not seen in many years. The days of proudly wearing Blue and Gold were back.

Dan Jones was a driving force behind that, our School’s resurgence in all of its endeavors. When you met Dan Jones, you could see how proud he was of the school. He loved the students. He loved the alums. He loved Commerce. He wore his conference championship ring with pride. He smiled ear to ear when we cut down the nets in 2015 after winning the Lone Star Conference Championship, and he saw how his leadership was rapidly expanding that little school on the Blackland Prairies of Northeast Texas was turning into a Super modern institution of higher learning with a storied history and a bright future.

However, behind all of that, Dr. Jones sadly battled depression, and in the end, it took his life. Anytime anyone takes their life is tragic, but when one asks the question; “Why?” it just never makes sense.

I can speak from experience. I have generalized anxiety (which is very close to clinical depression) and have had it for close to 10 years. The stigma surrounding it is still real, and the stigma is what makes it worse than anything. Nobody really knows why people develop these things. People would look at a man like Dan Jones and think “What does he have to be sad about? He is the President of a Major University and has a beautiful Wife and Children. He is living the dream!”

You could say that about me and millions of others who struggle with this. My life on the outside looks pretty good too. However the reality of the struggle of mental health problems in this country is real, and the antiquated and ignorant views of many people do not help. I don’t know what causes it, but I know what makes it worse, and that is people who have no idea what people are going through trying to Monday Morning quarterback the situation. Sometimes people just feel a certain way and that is all there is to it, there is no answer for the question “Why?”

There is an old Gospel Folk song called “A Satisfied Mind”, let me post the lyrics.

“How many times have
You heard someone say
If I had his money
I could do things my way
But little they know
That it’s so hard to find
One rich man in ten
With a satisfied mind
Once I was waitin’
In fortune and fame
Everything that I dreamed for
To get a start in life’s game
Then suddenly it happened
I lost every dime
But I’m richer by far
With a satisfied mind
Money can’t buy back
Your youth when you’re old
Or a friend when you’re lonely
Or a love that’s grown cold
The wealthiest person
Is a pauper at times
Compared to the man
With a satisfied mind
When my life has ended
And my time has run out
My friends and my loved ones
I’ll leave there’s no doubt
But one thing’s for certain
When it comes my time
I’ll leave this old world
With a satisfied mind.”
We live in a superficial culture that bases happiness and satisfaction on worthless junk. But for so many of us, all we need is love and support. Being told we are not in this alone.   People who struggle with these things are not crazy or any of the other ignorant labels society puts on people who struggle with mental health. Mental health is something that people need to take seriously, and I am thankful and proud that my University is doing that very thing.

My own struggle is something I have to deal with on a fairly consistent basis. I do believe that there is hope, because I have experienced it. My peace of mind is not in anything superficial, but found in a loving God and my relationship to him, along with the support of friends and family who accept me and love me without condition.

The lesson to be learned here is for those are struggling, there is hope. There are many resources to help you get back on track to a healthy life. There are counselors, pastors, therapists and groups dedicated to helping people find their way back.
For those know or are friends or family with those going through these situations, your role is vital. Don’t judge them, don’t tell them you know what they are going through, worst of all, don’t dismiss them. Just be there for them. Tell them you love them and show it. Check in with them and never let them forget that you care for them. They are walking on a thin ground, and they need a support system, be that for them.
My hope and prayer is for anyone struggling with this, please get help. There IS HOPE. There is a way to get out of the darkness. Certain things may be used short term, but the solution is not in a bottle or a handful of pills. This is a battle you CAN WIN, but in order to do that, you must fight the battle, and there are plenty of allies in this world that can make you victorious.
Anything less will make these losses much more of a tragedy.
During this time, we send our thoughts and prayers to the Jones family for their service to the community and the University, and we will always be thankful and proud of your association with our school. Lion Nation still loves the Jones family, and always will. We owe so much to you.
Dan Jones 5K Memorial Information:
5k

3 thoughts on “Remembering Dr. Dan Jones

  1. I suffer from bipolar depression I and I have seen the depths of depression that I hope most will never experience. It can be overwhelming when the depression gets deep enough. My hope and prayer is that anybody who reaches that point is to seek help from family, friends, or professional help. I have lost family and friends to suicide. My prayers go out to the family and friends of Dr. Jones during this time.

      • You are welcome. It hits home when I hear about anybody who chose suicide. I can understand why as my depression has hit that level before and probably will again. In my case, I don’t want to put my daughter through what I have seen others go through when a family member commits suicide. I realize others aren’t thinking that way during times like that.

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