After a life devoted to football and family, one of the greatest athletes to hail from Robstown and the first black player to be named all-state in Texas was laid to rest Sunday.
Willie D. Jones, 77, died Sept. 9 in Indianapolis, Ind. He was buried in Peaceful Rest Cemetery in Brazoria, Texas.
His love of football took him from his hometown of Robstown where be starred for the Cotton Pickers as a fierce running back all the way Indiana where he was a standout for Purdue University and eventually to the NFL and Canadian Football League.
Jones attended elementary school in the Robstown school district before going to high school at Solomon Cole in Corpus Christi. He later graduated from Robstown High School in 1956. He had the distinction of being the first black high school football players to be named all-state while playing for the Cotton Pickers, according to a story in the Indianapolis Monthly. He received a scholarship to Purdue University and graduated with a degree in Business Administration.
By the time he was a senior at Purdue, Jones was a standout for the Boilermakers and considered one of the top running backs in the the Big Ten. He led Purdue as a senior with 575 yards rushing on 124 carries to earn honorable mention all-conference honors.
Jones was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings, but opted to play for the Edmonton Eskimos in the Canadian Football League. He later played for the semi-pro Indianapolis Warriors and the Buffalo Bills.
Jones' interests included the NFL Players Association, Indiana Black Expo, Indy 500 and Inner City Football H.L. Teams. He was a great supporter of Rock Hardy Boxing.
He was preceded in death by his parents and his wife of 41 years, Dorothy Cain.
Survivors include one aunt, Georgia Mae Granville of Bailey’s Prairie; a step-son, David Cain of Las Vegas, Nevada; the family who provided a second home, the Traylor’s family of Evansville, Indiana and a host of other relatives and friends.
In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory and honor, may be sent to Burrell Chapel Baptist Church, P.O. Box 873, Angleton, Texas 77516.