Former Mayor Robert E. Jones dies at 85

Feb. 7—DANVILLE — The city has lost a leader who knew the importance and responsibility of taking care of the city and its residents, and that it was a never-ending job.

Former Mayor Bob Jones, 85, died Tuesday.

Danville Mayor Rickey Williams Jr. made the announcement at Tuesday night's Danville City Council meeting.

Williams said it's "sad news for our community."

In Jones' honor, the council had a moment of silence at Tuesday night's meeting.

"Our hearts and our prayers go out to everyone who loved Mayor Jones," Williams said.

Williams said there's a saying about giving me my flowers before I die.

"I'm glad that we were able to do that for Mayor Jones, and I thank all of you who helped to make that happen ..." Williams said.

Two weeks before Jones' 85th birthday in November 2023, numerous family, friends, past and current city employees and community leaders paid tribute to Jones and his many years of service.

Jones was humbled and honored and said he couldn't have led the city without help.

It was only fitting too that the reception and honor at the Danville City Council meeting in November took place in the building named after him, the Robert E. Jones Municipal Building, in Danville.

Jones, longtime businessman and Danville's longest serving mayor, enjoyed talking and reminiscing with people at November's three-hour reception.

Jones served as mayor for 16 years, starting in 1987.

Jones also in 2023 celebrated owning and operating Dairy Queen in Danville for 40 years.

In 2015, Jones told the Commercial-News his 16 years as mayor went by fast. He felt very fortunate and blessed to serve as mayor.

People have trust in you, Jones said.

"The job is not always easy," he'd said.

Jones said they were trying to figure out where they were going when he started, with transitioning into a mayor/alderman form of government.

Highlights of his time as mayor included new jobs and factories including McLane Midwest, AutoZone, Alcoa, Central States Distribution Center, Sygma and Fiberteq.

State Sen. Judy Myers, Rep. Bill Black and Vermilion County grant monies made possible the new interchange at Lynch and I-74, which opened up new land for development.

The arena was renovated. The community came together for a new library and the war museum. The city saw veteran memorials, the soccer complex at Winter Park and new playgrounds. New bridges were reconstructed. Route 1 was expanded with grant money.