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Longtime track official Ken Jones, left, recently passed away. Jones oversaw track and cross country for 46 years.
If you ran track or cross country in Southern Maine between 1966 and 2012, then you probably were running under the direction of Ken Jones.
As the Southern Maine Middle School Indoor Track Conference celebrates its 60th season of running, it also bids farewell to Jones, who dedicated his entire life to track and field in the area.
Jones passed away on March 1, 2018 at the age of 71 and leaves behind a track legacy. Thousands of athletes competed under his direction for 46 years. The legacy lives on with a strong league of 18 high schools and 20 middle schools.
Kenneth Edward Jones was born in 1946. Graduating from South Portland High School Class of 1965, Jones was always proud to be a Red Riot and lived most of his life in South Portland. The winter before graduation, Jones attended the 1965 Southwestern Maine Track Conference Championship at the Portland Exposition Building. It was there that he developed an interest in track. He began his career as a track official while he was attending Portland Junior College, Lehigh University and Clark University from 1965-1971.
Starting as a high jump official in 1966, Jones gradually worked his way to being the SWMTC High School and Southern Maine Middle School Meet Director, a position he held from 1980-2000.
As Meet Director, Jones put in 13-hour days at the Expo, sometimes eating only an ice cream sandwich the entire day. He also spent numerous hours at home typing up meet programs, meeting minutes, statistics and financial reports.
Jones was a wealth of knowledge in the track and field rules, statistics and history of Southern Maine Indoor Track. During his tenure as meet director, he included a history article in his programs and documented changes throughout the evolution of the league.
Some interesting facts included cancellation of meets during World War II, the purchase of the bank-curved track, renovation of the Expo and the beginning of the middle school league in 1959, the formation of the girls’ league in 1983 and the addition of the meter events to the existing yard events in 1998.
Jones also became involved with Southern Maine Middle School Athletic Conference Cross Country League becoming their Festival Meet Director from the mid-1980s until he retired officially in 2010.
Jones always put the needs of athletes first, making sure there was fair competition, and he very rarely ever lost his cool. Jones would front his own money to purchase league items and awards for athletes sometimes waiting months for reimbursement. He also ran thorough seeding meetings to make sure athletes were in the proper races even if it meant he would be there for hours.
Jones also taught and periodically coached at Mahoney Middle School from 1972-1994 not missing a single day for illness.
In 2010, Jones was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, but he continued to officiate until the end of SMMSAC Festival Meets in March 2012.
Even during this time, Jones always smiled, put his heart into the job, and made sure the athletes were being treated well.