A Mountain Funeral – R.I.P. Spud Jones

(re-posted from December 2010)

I went to my first mountain funeral the other day. There is a small cemetery here in Timberon. It’s well-kept, if not fancy. The lawn is cleared of trees and bushes, and the nameplates are cleared so you can read the names. Not many standing headstones, if any (I’m trying to remember if I saw any at all).

A local cowboy and decorated war vet (Vietnam), Spud Jones, was killed just before Christmas when a tractor he was driving pitched him off and then ran him over. Spud was a good guy, and he will be missed. The mountain folks are shocked and sad, but nobody was surprised that he died working (with his boots on – I guess you could say). Spud was one of the first people I met when we moved here. He had a face that saw a thousand miles, and buried in there were the most twinkly eyes you’d ever seen! He was a cool dude. I’ll miss him.

The funeral was just after Christmas on the 29th. Winter had been skirting and teasing around the edges of the Sacramento mountains this year, but we hadn’t got any real snow to speak of yet. The cold winds started blowing that day, but that didn’t stop anybody. I’m still waiting for a count, but I’d bet there were right around 100 people. In a town of 300. Granted, most of them were relatives of Spud (he had a big family) but I was surprised and pleased at the turnout.

It was a graveside service. His daughter Amy started it off by reading a poem written by Spud’s son Rhett. The casket was homemade by Amy’s husband JoeBob, and J.R. a friend and local wood artist. There were cowboy pictures burned into the surface, and wild horses running around the sides. The handles were hemp rope loosely secured with iron. The top of the casket was structured with nice wooden slats on the surface built up to form the dome shape, all sanded and polished. JoBob and JR did a fine job.

photo courtesy of the Mountain Times Newspaper
photo courtesy of the Mountain Times Newspaper

Spud was laid out in his leather shoes, jeans, and a good shirt, hair trimmed up, and coins on his eyes. They had a pinto horse at the graveside in full gear, with Spud’s hat on the saddle horn and his empty boots in the stirrups. Before they closed the coffin up, they put the hat and boots in with him. Six guys lowered him down using three ropes running under the casket. Smooth as silk – didn’t even tip. They took the saddle and gear off the horse and laid it by the grave, I don’t know if they buried it with him or not.

The local preacher did a nice simple service, and many of Spuds friends spoke a bit about him and told stories. Everyone that wanted to, got to say their piece. There were lots of tears and lots of laughs. After the service, several folks headed over to the High Country Lounge for “Spud Farts” (a drink established at the bar several years ago). Not sure what is in it, but if it’s named for Spud, it will definitely be the real deal.

R.I.P. Spud Jones (1948 – 2010)




Update 8/23/2014
This was re-posted from my other (obsolete) blog. I wanted to save it. I received some nice comments at that time, and am adding them below. We still miss Spud, and remember him fondly. His daughter Amy, passed a little over a year later.

July 19, 2013 at 1:16 PM
hi I’m Kd spuds granddauter that he loved soooo mush it is very sad that he died I love you spud and we all miss you love kd

Butch & Kenda Schramm
December 5, 2011 at 7:38 AM
We met Spud on a trip to Timberon in May 2010. We’re from Maryland. Spud befriended us and welcomed us like we had known him for years. Yes, he was the real deal…a real bon vivant. It’s a shame. We didn’t get the chance to visit Timberon this year, but we’ll be back and I plan to put flowers on his grave. Spud was a glaring example of the good-natured, selfless character that is missing in America today.

Cindy Snyder
January 10, 2011 at 7:13 PM
I’m Spuds sister and didn’t get to come. What a wonderful description of my loved one

Writer, reader, artist, teacher. Allathat. Internet Sales & Marketing on the flip side. Living and working from a mountain, smack dab in the middle of America.