The remarkable tale of Lakeland School System’s inception remains relatively unknown to many, but in many ways, it centers around one pivotal name: Rudolph Jones, Jr.
Mr. Jones passed away this summer at the age of 84. An extremely private man, very little is known about his death other than Canale Funeral Home in Memphis indicating that his birthday was also the day he passed away, June 22nd (1939 – 2023).
An accomplished architect, Jones graduated from Harvard University before establishing his own firm in Memphis. Among many professional accomplishments, his most well-known is the Agricenter Building on Germantown Road. However, his impact on Lakeland extended beyond architectural wonders.
(Video above is driving through Mr. Jones property in the summer of 2015. The property would become the future site of Lakeland Middle and Lakeland Prep. The trail is approximately where the current main entrance is to the campus off Canada Rd. Video courtesy of Matt Wright).
The Jones family possessed vast acres of land in Lakeland, nearly 900 acres at one time. That land was an inheritance that had been passed down for over 140 years. Their contribution to the growth of Lakeland schools, particularly in finding a suitable location for LPS, cannot be overstated. It was through the efforts of Jones-Gilliland Group LLC, with its strong family ties to Rudolph Jones, that the land was made available for the project.
The Jones family always embraced the idea of an educational facility being established on their land. Throughout numerous meetings and planning sessions, they collaborated diligently with LSS representatives, striving to integrate the school’s design harmoniously with the surrounding public and development spaces. The family’s vision, titled “Lakeland Green Master Plan,” emphasized preserving the natural essence of the land, a principle they held close to their hearts.
Sadly, Susan Jones, a key member of the family and the wife of Rudolf Jones Jr, passed away last year on August 16, 2022. However, she left behind a profound sentiment that encapsulates the family’s mission. She expressed her earnest desire for the sustainable stewardship of their ancestral land, now encompassing educational buildings and athletic fields. The Jones family’s dedication to providing Lakeland children with a remarkable and enriching natural environment for learning remains a testament to their enduring commitment to the community’s well-being. As the middle school embarks on its sixth academic year and the high school on its second, the legacy of the Jones family continues to foster a positive impact on the lives of countless students now and into the future.
To read more about the Jones’ family and the purchase of the property, you can read the article from Lakeland Currents in December 2015 here.