Elijah Ulysses Jones


(b. June 25,1924 – d. Nov 11, 2002)


'The Block' merchant's life inspires family, others

By Barbara Blake

Elijah Ulysses Jones was first and foremost a gentleman. When the longtime businessman on The Block in downtown Asheville died Monday, that was the sentiment expressed repeatedly by those who knew and worked near the 80-year-old mechanic and owner of Jones' Convenience Store on South Market Street. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word said Dr. Jim Turpin, a founder of the New Hope Community Health Center on south Market and the Symphony on the Block music program. There was a dignity about him that I think is cultural and when I say cultural, he had some of the finest characteristics of what might be described as African royalty. That sense of dignity and royalty was typified and characterized more than anything else by two of our women who, at last year's Symphony on the Block, went across (to his business) and escorted him to a seat of honor under an umbrella Turpin said. That harkens back to tribal courtesy and respect, and that's the thing I felt for him - courtesy, respect and admiration. When Jones started his car repair business, The Block was the bustling hub of African-American commerce in Asheville, its storefronts occupied by barbers, beauticians, drugstores, restaurants, doctors, lawyers and other businesses. The father of seven, Jones sold and repaired cars for nearly 50 years, working with his four sons to make the business a success. He later transformed the station into a convenience store, which operated for 25 years. In 1999, Jones was honored with the Retail Award during Minority Enterprise Development Week and was called "an inspiration to all entrepreneurs." Jones' oldest son Thomas Jones, a pastor and conference speaker, said Friday his father was also an inspiration to his seven children. He was a man of passion and extreme perseverance, and he modeled that for his children," Thomas Jones said. He has impacted my life immensely, in ways that words can't even describe. My desire is to take that legacy and transform it into other lives and change those lives for the better, for people of all races he said. That is my heartbeat." ...

gas pump

    Ulysses with great grandsons