When I walked in the room to meet with Mr. Randolph, I knew the instant he cracked a smile he was someone worth meeting. He stood up to shake my hand and waited for me to be seated first, the way gentlemen used to do years ago. He was an easy person to talk to and as is typical in many conversations with locals, we realized we knew each other better than we thought.
This is a story about Randolph Jones, and Liberty County, Georgia is his home.
Mr. Randolph Jones was born in 1935 in Riceboro. He grew up near the crossroads at and began working at the ripe old age of eight years old. Yes, you read that correctly eight years old. His first job was at Mary Jones service station. He did such a good job there that a year later, he was offered a job driving a tractor (now at nine years old) for J.F. Brown Lumber Company. And he did so well at this job that when Mr. Glenn Bryant, owner of the Hinesville Telephone Company mentioned to Sheriff Paul Sikes in 1961 that he needed an employee, well Sheriff Sikes thought a young Randolph Jones would be perfect for the job. Randolph, now in his 20s, did work for a short period at the telephone company but quickly became more to Senator Bryant and in 1962, he became that right hand man we all know him to be.
Meeting Senator Bryant
He slowly took on more and more tasks related to the Bryant family and Senator Bryant’s political life. His wife, Geneva, even joined him and would work at the house with Mrs. Bryant. Over time the two couples and their children would become more like one merged family. Mr. Randolph & Senator Bryant accomplished many great tasks together. From building a 4,000-square-foot home that Mr. Randolph still lives in today, to uniting a community during a period when race relations were tense. The two worked together toward a common goal, the improvement of our community.
“He taught me to watch what others do closely and learn from them. So one day you can do it better,” Mr. Randolph said of the late Senator Bryant.
By this point in our conversation, Mr. Randolph pulled out a list he’d written. “This is the list of my teachers,” he told me. Teachers? I questioned. He then informed me, he didn’t go to college or join the military. He didn’t have a high school education, so the people who taught him were those on his list. How far did you go in school then? I inquired. Seventh grade, he responded.
He began to tell me about his teachers. I know we’ve got some great educators in our community and have for quite some time, but what a group he learned from! The list consisted of two parts, those he learned from in his “political life” and his list of “new friends.” His political life friends included everyone from Representative Al Williams, Judge Stewart and Judge Caswell, to Senator Rene Kemp and of course the late Senator Glenn Bryant. His new friends include the current Sheriff Steve Sikes, Billy Edwards, Michelle Ricketson, Kenny Howard and the Liberty County Commission & Hinesville City Council. There were many, many more that I haven’t mentioned, because it seems that just about anyone of political importance from the 1960s forward, well Mr. Randolph considered them a teacher.
“These are people I’ve learned from,” he told me, “but they’re also people I’ve been able to help teach.” I’d say, that is one of the most important phrases I’ve heard. We all learn from each other. And from these teachers & connections Mr. Randolph has made, he’s been able to pass on the benefit to those less fortunate in our community. If someone in the community is in need, Mr. Randolph doesn’t hesitate to call upon those he’s fostered relationships with to help. It stands to be mentioned to as a true testament to Mr. Randolph’s character and also our community’s relationship, no one has ever turned him down. And in turn, Mr. Randolph still to this day works with those stewards of our community to keep it moving forward.
A New Era
Today, Mr. Randolph oversees Bryant Commons Park. The park in Hinesville that was once home to the Bryant family is now a beautiful oasis in the middle of town. No longer filled with the sounds of the Bryant’s horses, today you’ll hear the sounds of children playing and fish being reeled from the water. “I give God thanks,” Mr. Randolph made sure to say of the gift the Bryant family gave to our community.
He has so enjoyed seeing the property and our community evolve. He attributes the success of Liberty County to the many teachers he learned from. “They set the direction for Liberty County and are why it continues to be successful.” In turn, we should all be thankful for Mr. Randolph’s contribution to our community. I imagine his own teachings affected the leaders of our community enough to influence its success as well.
In his personal life, Mr. Randolph spends his time with his 7 children, 19 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. They all still come together in Mr. Randolph’s home on occasion and attend church together at First African Missionary Baptist in Riceboro, where Mr. Randolph has been a member all his life.
-Erin Johnson, Creative & Content Manager for the Liberty County CVB
The Right Blend Blog is written by two different authors employed by the Liberty County Chamber/CVB. As we are able, we rotate weeks and each writes about our individual experiences, opinions and let our writing reflect our personalities and creativity. All content provided on The Right Blend blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.