Widow of longtime pastor still serving
"He was a great love, he was."
In 1952 before the passage of the Civil Rights Act Lillie Geneva Jones married the Rev. N.H. Jones in a little house on Carver Street in Lawton.
At age 19, she stepped into the role of pastor's wife a decision highly commended by her grandmother, who loved all preachers but opposed by her parents, who thought their daughter was too young to marry the 42-year-old minister.
But God's plan prevailed as N.H. Jones founded New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, where he served as pastor for over 45 years, and loved the city of Lawton and its people.
Together, he and his wife used love as their weapon of choice as they waged war against racial injustice.
"This really was his home," she said. "He helped everybody. He didn't care whether you were white, black, red, yellow or blue," she said. "He would lead in God with all his heart, soul, mind and body."
She watched her husband walk the first black children to a desegregated Lawton school, serve as president of the local NAACP branch and extend forgiveness to people who spread hate.
"He was very stern in what he knew was right, yet he could love you anyway," she said.
Following his death in 1998, the street in front of the church was named Southwest N.H. Jones Avenue in his memory.
"My husband's been gone 19 years, and it's like yesterday because of how he is remembered," she said. "That makes a difference."
As a civic leader and community activist, he left a legacy that his wife carries on, according to James E. Gorham, pastor of New Zion Missionary Baptist Church, who hosted a celebration in November for Mrs. Jones for her years of faithful service to the church.
She has played the piano at the church for 40 years, and she continues to play during the Sunday School service.
"She's like the pillar of the church," Gorham said.
Before Lillie Jones became a Lawtonian and fell in love with H.N. Jones, she was a little girl living near Snyder who was bused 60 miles a day to Hobart, where she attended an all-black school.
She is the granddaughter of the late George Jackson, an educated slave who, once freed, opened up a booming beer tavern in Texas before moving to Snyder, known as Cyclone City (because of a devastating tornado that struck in 1905), where no blacks were allowed.
"A black man had killed a white man in Snyder, and they said they didn't want any more blacks there," Mrs. Jones said. "This man came and told them, 'As long as you can't have blacks, you're going to be sabotaged with cyclones.'"
A group of people from Snyder visited Jackson's tavern and told Jackson and his wife, Ida Marie Jackson, about the cyclones.