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Remembering Brian Jones

Remembering Brian Jones

Bleachers--those hard benches that are used for watching a tractor pull at the Will County Fair or maybe a high school graduation--are not something anyone looks forward to spending hours sitting on. The uncomfortable seats are crowded, with no "personal space." Your back is not supported, and people will climb right up through the middle of your family to get to their places, spilling their popcorn along the way.

Onlookers were sitting on the bleachers in Monee on a warm summer day two years ago when beloved baseball coach Brian Jones was instructing the Hot Rods, a team of eight-year-old boys. There was a comment from the bleachers and Brian, true to his character, decided to not "sweat the small stuff." Instead, he turned to his wife, then suddenly fell to the ground as his team, including his son, watched in horror. Soon an ambulance came and transported Brian to the hospital, where he died later that evening due to complications from heart disease.

This was a tough day, not only for Brian's young team but especially for his wife, Bobbie, and his son, Ryan. The Jones family was turned upside down. Continuing life the same way was not an option.

Baseball playing for that summer was over because the season ended at that fateful tournament the evening Brian said goodbye to his friends and family. The Jones family abruptly shrunk from three to two.

Today, Bobbie Jones is struggling to adjust to life without her husband and without her favorite coach. One goal of hers is to help her son, Ryan, who now is 10 years old, to remember his dad. Bleachers were a part of Bobbie and Brian's relationship because on many hot afternoons, she sat in the bleachers enjoying the games that her husband coached and her son played.

So, with the help of her mother, Diane Schultz, also of Beecher, Jones searched for the perfect gift that would remind Beecher baseball fans of a man who dedicated so much time and energy to the boys on his team.

While visiting Heritage Park in Crete, Jones and Schultz noticed benches which were donated as memorials. After some research, they decided that the commemorative benches would be a perfect addition to the Beecher baseball fields.

The recycled-plastic park bench offers a cozy seat for grandparents who come to see their grandchildren play ball but forget to bring their own chair. At the same time, the bench honors Brian Jones with a faceplate stating one of his favorite sayings, "Don't sweat the small stuff."

Choosing and ordering a bench was just the start. Approvals needed to happen, and Scott Wehling was the man for the job. Wehling is a Beecher Village Board member serving on the Public Buildings and Properties, Parks and Recreation Committee. He worked with Jones to gain approval to have two benches permanently positioned at Field One and Field Two in Firemen's Park. Public Works installed the two benches.

The beautiful benches sit vacant until a group of kids enters Firemen's Park to play ball. When the benches are filled, the audience recalls the memory of man devoted to his family, his village, and the youth of Beecher.

Beecher baseball enthusiasts should thank Bobbie and Ryan Jones, Diane Schultz and her brother, Curt Wehrmann, for the comfortable seating.

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