Dallas Derral Jones, who served for two decades as mayor of Livingston and is remembered for his moral integrity and commitment to developing the town's infrastructure, died Sunday night. He was 76.
His daughter, Trish Mack, said the cause of death was congestive heart failure.
Jones served as mayor of the small town, population 1,900, from 1997 through 2016. Earlier, he was an alderman and chief of the town's fire department.
"The man had a vision: He could see down the road to what Livingston would need in three to five years and prepare for it," said Livingston Mayor David McCreary, who was elected after Jones decided not to seek a sixth term.
Lea McDonald, the town's clerk, who worked alongside Jones for his entire term, said he lead the town in expanding its infrastructure, including building a water tower along U.S. 190 and starting the project to build a second tower south of Interstate 12. He also helped lead the effort to build a new sewer plant, sidewalks and a park across from the town offices, she said.
Up nearly until his death, Jones served on various boards in the parish, including the Livingston Intergovernmental Commission, Emergency 911 board, Louisiana Municipal Gas Authority and the Council on Aging, said Mack.
"One of his passions was to help other people," she said. "He would go out of his way to help anyone as much as he could and in any way that he could."
As chief of the town's fire department in the 1980's, Jones helped coordinate the response to the train derailment that dumped hazardous chemicals into the town and forced residents to evacuate, McCreary said.
When McCreary became mayor, Jones passed along this advice, McCreary recalled: "Do what is right, not what is politically right. Do what's right, and you'll always sleep well at night."
Livingston-area Parish Councilman Jeff Ard called Jones "probably the best mayor they've had to date."
"He has made big-time deals for the town," said Ard, referencing the Epic Piping factory near Livingston and the Burger King in the town.
Livingston Parish Sheriff Jason Ard recalled Jones as an honest person, who was key to building a parish 911 center in the mid-2000s.
"He was a true friend," the sheriff said. "When he told you he was gonna do something, he done it."
The Ard brothers said Jones was an early and public supporter of their political careers.
Mack said Jones worked for 10 years in the automotive parts business before getting into the grocery business. He owned grocery stores in Prairieville and Livingston, she said.
Jones is survived by his wife, Sheila Hughes Jones, as well as five children, 14 grandchildren and one great grandchild, Mack said. He was predeceased by one child.
Mack said visitation will be held Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Wednesday from 10 a.m. at Unity Prayer Center, 28145 S. Frost Road, Livingston. The funeral will be held at Unity Prayer Center on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Interment will take place at Gateway Gardens Memorial Park in Livingston.