Crown Point, IN
Dean Jones retired in 2003 after serving Purdue Extension for 30 years as a county and area educator, the last 20 years as County Extension Director in Lake County. A native of Spencer County, Indiana, Jones graduated from Purdue University in 1961. In 1971 he received an M.S. in Community Development from the University of Louisville.
Following his graduation from Purdue, Jones served in the United States Army in Germany. In 1965 he became the Executive Director of the Lincoln Hills Development Corporation in Tell City, Indiana, a Community Action Agency that operated federally funded programs in four Indiana counties. Essentially the founding director (the first director had died after only two months in office) of the agency that was the local arm of the U.S. program commonly known as the War on Poverty, Jones was responsible for all the activities necessary to get these new federal programs, such as Head Start, up and running. In addition to his local responsibilities, he served as president of the statewide Community Action Agency Directors’ Association from 1970-72 and from 1969 to 1972 he served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Community Development. He also found it necessary to make numerous trips to Chicago to articulate the unique needs of the rural poor to the urban administrators of these new programs. One nominator said “a book could be written of the impact” Jones had in starting this agency that is now national recognized and has won numerous awards for the service it provides to the poor.
After eight years at the helm of the Lincoln Hills Development Corporation, and earning his master’s degree from the University of Louisville, Jones joined the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service in 1973, serving as Agriculture Agent and County Extension Coordinator in LaGrange and Knox Counties before moving to Fort Wayne in 1980 to become the Area Community Development Agent. In 1983 he became the County Extension Director in Lake County, where he also served as coordinator of the Lake County Community Development Committee, the last of a group of community study committees formed by Purdue Extension in the 1960’s. Under Jones’ leadership, the Lake County committee continued to have influence on growth and development including the Gary airport, community recreation facilities, health care infrastructure and various community improvement projects. They have also made recommendations that have resulted in state legislation regarding criminal justice and poor relief.
Jones’ passion for community development activities is evident in his other activities. He has served on the Lake County Park Board, and during his term as president, he led the development of plans that resulted in a multi-million dollar bond that expanded the parks system to include new parks, including the Deep River Water Park. Jones was a board member for Leadership Northwest Indiana, and he has served as a member and president of the Lake County Plan Commission, and as president of the Lake County Library Foundation.
Jones is a member and past president of the Crown Point Rotary Club. Currently he is secretary of the Hammond Chapter of the Nation Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE). He is a life member of Epsilon Sigma Phi, the national extension honorary fraternity, and is a member of Gamma Sigma Delta, the honorary agricultural fraternity.
In 1981 Jones was honored by the national County Agents Association with its Achievement Award, and again in 2003 with their Distinguished Service Award. The Hammond Times in 2000 named him as one of the top twenty community leaders in Northwest Indiana. In 2003 he was named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Indiana Governor Frank O’Bannon.