Retired Judge William “Bill” Goff Jones, 69, of Charlotte, North Carolina passed away on May 27, 2015, after living a rich, full life. Born in Weston, West Virginia, son of Ella Summers and Lloyd “Casey” Marlin Jones, Bill spent his childhood in Glenville, West Virginia.
He graduated from Glenville High School in 1963 and enrolled in Glenville State College. After his freshman year, he transferred to Davidson College and spent his junior year studying in France, and thus began his love of travel. Bill graduated in 1967 with a degree in history.
In 1969, he married his devoted partner, Christine “Chris” Sprenkle, and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1970. Even though Bill came to call North Carolina his home, he remained loyal to his West Virginia roots and kept family and friends from his upbringing near and dear to his heart.
After law school, he enjoyed a two-year clerkship with Judge James B. McMillan, who became an influential mentor. Then, Bill and Chris embarked on an adventurous, yearlong trip around the world. Upon returning from their trip, Bill joined the civil rights law firm of Casey and Daly and then became one of Mecklenburg County’s first assistant public defenders.
In 1976, he was elected as a District Court Judge and, in 1998, he became the Chief District Court Judge serving in that capacity until he retired from the bench in 2001. In retirement, Bill continued to use his expertise as a legal consultant, helping court systems across the country improve their programs to protect children and victims of domestic violence.
Bill’s steadfast concern for the welfare of children and families led to some of his many accomplishments, including the founding of the Guardian Ad Litem program in Mecklenburg County to ensure that abused and neglected children have advocates in court proceedings. Bill also founded the Advocates for Children in Court and co-founded Advocates for Addicted Women and their Children.
Bill was a long-time member of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and its Permanency Planning and Family Violence Departments. As a result of his tireless efforts, Bill was selected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop improved child support guidelines and was instrumental in founding the Children’s Law Center, which is now a part of the Council for Children’s Rights.
Through his vigilant dedication and selfless service to those in need, Bill earned many accolades, including the Dolly Award from the Council for Children, the National Juvenile Court Judge of the Year by the National Court Appointed Special Advocate Association, and a special commendation from the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.
In 1984, he was selected for inclusion in Esquire Magazine’s first annual register of “Men and Women Under Forty Who Are Changing America” where he was described as a “Champion of the People” in politics and law. Later in his career, he was honored with the title “Hero for Democracy” by the Charlotte Observer. While Bill was dedicated to his work, he was first and foremost a loving husband to Chris, and devoted father to two wonderful sons, Brian and Eric. He made the front yard into a baseball and soccer field, and played for hours, coaching and having fun.
He also had a passion for the outdoors and enjoyed a spiritual connection with nature. He loved to camp and hike and introduced these hobbies to his sons by pioneering an annual trip to Grayson Highlands State Park with family friends, a tradition that lasted more than 20 years. His combined appreciation for nature and interest in travelling took him and his family to virtually every major U.S. national park.
Bill also spearheaded an annual canoe trip with some of his closest friends – who called him “Judge Willie” – through the black water rivers of the Carolinas, where he’d sit in the front of the canoe looking for unique birds while his partner paddled down the river. He passed along his love of nature to his beloved grandchildren who could say “brown thrasher” and “chickadee” as soon as they could talk!
Bill approached people and the world with an incredibly open mind, and was always eager to learn about different cultures and perspectives. This fueled his passion for travel and inspired him to provide his family with many diverse experiences. Family members and those in his wide circle of friends will sorely miss his kindness, sense of humor and love of life.
He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Christine Sprenkle Jones; his sons, Brian Summers Jones (Lindsay), and Eric Hartman Jones (Norah); three grandchildren, Ella Kee Jones, William Hawfield Jones, and Graham McIntosh Jones; his sister, Sarah Elizabeth Stuart (Bruce); his niece, Jennifer Mitchell (Dave); nephew, Jason Ingram (Lacey); great-nephews, Matt and Luke Mitchell; and several special aunts and cousins.
The family appreciates the wonderful care and assistance Bill received at the Ivey, Brookdale South Park and from Dr. Charles “Chuck” Edwards and his staff at Memory Center Charlotte. These facilities treated Bill and his family with compassion and understanding, and lightened the burden of this difficulty journey.
A Memorial Service will be held at Myers Park Methodist Church on Thursday, June 4, at 12:00 p.m. with a reception following the service in Jubilee Hall.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be sent to: The Charlotte Neuroscience Foundation, c/o Memory Center Charlotte, 2711 Randolph Road #505, Charlotte, NC 28204; The Ivey, 6030 Park South Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210; Council for Children’s Rights, Children and Family Services, 601 East 5th Street, Suite 510, Charlotte, NC 28202 or North Carolina Nature Conservancy, 46 Haywood Street, Suite 222, Asheville, NC 28801.
Robertson Funeral and Cremation Service is serving the family, www.throbertson.com.
Published in Charlotte Observer on May 30, 2015