Jimmy “JJ” Jones, a rural Arkansas City resident and owner of Sycamore Farms, died Monday afternoon in a tragic motor vehicle accident.
The accident occurred shortly after he had shared a photo on his Facebook page of the breads he intended to sell at Tuesday’s Farm and Art Market — one of the many places he regularly sold his wares.
“Today we mourn the loss of our beloved friend and market family member, Jimmy ‘JJ’ Jones, ‘The Bread guy’ of Sycamore Farms and staple at Two Rivers Co-op,” Farm and Art Market Director Brittany Carder posted early Tuesday morning on Facebook.
“Each time I’d talk with Jimmy, for two years, especially after our recent visit to their home, I’d feel more potential and confidence in adopting more of his self-sufficient ways of doing these things with my own family,” Carder said. “I learned valuable life skills from him.”
The Arkansas City Police and Fire-EMS departments were dispatched about 3:45 p.m. Monday for a report of a motorcycle-vehicle accident at the intersection of East Madison Avenue and the U.S. 77 bypass.
Jones, 66, was riding a 2009 Aprilia motorcycle westbound on Madison, crossing the bypass, when he was struck by an eastbound 2011 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck driven by Cowley College trustee Bob Juden, 68, of rural Winfield, who was turning left onto the bypass to travel north.
Jones, who was not wearing a helmet, was transported by ambulance to South Central Kansas Medical Center, where he later died of his injuries. Juden, who was wearing his seat belt, did not sustain any injuries.
The bypass was blocked off to through traffic for about an hour and a half at Chestnut Avenue and Mill Road while the Kansas Highway Patrol conducted its investigation.
The highway patrol is still investigating this accident and has not said if either driver was at fault. Arkansas City police assisted with family notification and traffic control.
Market mourns Jones
Vendors at the Arkansas City Farm and Art Market, as well as the community at large, came together Tuesday at the market not only to do their regular work and shopping, but also to honor Jones’ memory.
Arkansas City Area Chamber of Commerce Director Kammy Downs and Convention & Visitors Bureau Director Pam Crain sold the bread that Jones had prepared for the market.
The loaves were all sold within 15 minutes of the market’s opening.
“At the market with my dad’s people,” Jones’ daughter, Josi Schwartz, posted online Tuesday.
“They all had on bandannas because that was what he wore. The last song the musician played was ‘I’ll Fly Away’ and I feel that nothing could be more appropriate.”
Benefit raffle giveaway
During the three-hour market, there were opportunities for individuals to contribute to Jones’ funeral expenses by buying raffle tickets, purchasing bread or simply donating cash.
The raffle originally was planned as a Father’s Day giveaway, but Carder converted it into a benefit fundraiser when news of Jones’ death reached her.
Through the efforts of those attending, $900 was raised in raffle tickets alone. An additional $872 was collected through other means.
“The community really turned out last night. … We still had a full house all three hours, and nonstop raffle basket ticket sales and donations until 7 (p.m.),” Carder said.
There were many more who expressed their feelings regarding Jones’s passing online and with each other in the last few days.
Schwartz also will be at the Winfield Farm and Art Market on June 16 with some loaves of white bread for sale.
A tribute to Jones will be set up at the information booth with a place for people to share memories of Jimmy and condolences.
“We will also be accepting donations for Jimmy’s family,” the market’s Facebook page states.
Sympathy for family
Many at the market expressed their sympathy to Jones’ family, some of whom attended the market.
“I’ve only been a market vendor for a couple of years, and not too consistently, but Jimmy and Robin (Jones) were at every market I ever set up at here in Arkansas City,” said fellow vendor Paisley Howerton.
“You’d always see them there as a team with loaves of delicious artisan bread and friendly energy.”
She spoke fondly of the Joneses, indicating she looked forward to seeing the couple each week during the market.
“On a couple of different occasions, toward the end of a market day, Jimmy quietly walked by and set a loaf of bread on my table, and (would) say he didn’t think he would sell that one or I should really try it,” Howerton said.
“Every encounter was a positive one, and you just don’t meet folks like that every day. Last night, I bought a loaf of that sunflower cocoa bread that I missed out on at last week’s market … and it is nothing less (than) fantastic.”
Carder shares memories
Carder was also close to the Jones family. Recently, she visited their home with her daughter.
“Jimmy suggested that Luxe would enjoy seeing the baby pigs that were just born and we did enjoy that,” she said.
Carder even posted a video of the encounter on the Farm and Art Market’s Facebook page.
During their visit, the Jones’ grandsons were present, as well.
“The children hunted for four-leaf clovers. Jimmy helped show my daughter how to use their awesome zip line and indoor rock climbing wall he’d built for the kids,” Carder said.
“Robin made us all a dandelion tea and we sipped on that walking around their incredible property, with Jimmy constantly feeding me knowledge on everything he’d created inside and out of their house, the purpose of each thing, and how he did it.”
Shaffer recalls bread
Another Farm and Art Market participant shared fond memories of Jones’ bread.
“My friend and I are into good and healthy food. We also love crusty, European-style bread,” said Alice Shaffer, who runs a table for Cowley County Humane Society during the market.
“Imagine our surprise when one day, we met at the Ark City Farm and Art Market, and there were JJ and Robin, with big, welcoming smiles, selling artisan bread.”
She and her friend took home some bread, then came back the next week with their critique.
“JJ listened patiently and took everything into account — he always listened to his customers and was not afraid to try new things,” Schaffer said.
“We had many conversations about his products and when he started making his sourdough bread, we were so thrilled! I had been baking my own bread, but it’s time-consuming and buying is so much easier. I would throw his bread into the oven for a few minutes and it came out like the crusty, European breads we so love at our house.”
Her interactions with Jones continued through the years he and his wife set up at the market.
“They are the type of people who make every stranger feel like a friend. You never knew what JJ would come up with next — looking at his Facebook page was like opening a present and then becoming excited to get some of the new goodies that were posted,” she said.
“Holiday loaf, bierocks, pizza dough, sourdough burger buns, cocoa loaf, sourdough bread with all kinds of different grains and so much more — he just started to get going. We will miss JJ dearly and offer our deepest condolences to his family.”
Others at the market also shared fond stories of their first encounters with Jones.
“I had the absolute privilege of meeting JJ several years ago. I would describe him as a kind, loving spirit who was in touch with nature. He was a wealth of knowledge and took every opportunity to teach others,” said Kelly Dillner.
“There was never a time that I saw him where he wasn’t wearing that amazing smile! He had an undeniable love for his family and always told others how proud he was of them. The only regret I have is that I didn’t meet him sooner.”
“JJ was a man that made his way into many hearts and that is why the gravity of his loss feels so heavy,” said Megan Ice.
“Whenever my husband and I saw him, he had a new invention, wood carving, garden upgrade or project to enthusiastically share news of. Sycamore Farms was just the newest project in a long list of things he actually accomplished — not just talked about. He invented the BBQ Firewire. He was expecting a 500-pound crop of elderberries this year.
“He built his bread oven, ‘Chernobyl,’ with his own hands. He has a full-size, moveable chicken coop. He grew the sweetest wheatgrass I have ever tasted. The kicker is he would’ve loved to show anyone how to do it, too. He was one hell of a man and will be missed. As much as it hurts to say goodbye, one thing is for sure — he came, he saw and he conquered.”