" Helping Homeowners Since 1959"

In memory of our Founder

James W. Stone

(August 13, 1917 - June 7, 2012)

"and remember, There's a Stone's Store near you"

Copied from The Post Seachight, Bainbridge, GA

  

James W. (Jim) Stone, the founder of the Stone’s Home Centers chain of stores, passed

away Thursday, June 7 at Memorial Manor Nursing Home in Bainbridge. He was 94.

Stone opened his first store in Bainbridge in April 1959, at the age of 41, with the help

of his friend and financial partner, the late Charles H. Kirbo. The chain now has nine

stores located across Southwest Georgia and North Florida.

Stone was known for the friendly phrase he used in many of the store’s commercials

over the years: “There’s a Stone’s Store Near You!” It was also the title of his 2008

biography. After retiring in 1990 at the age of 72, he continued to actively promote his

chain of stores and served as chairman of the company’s board of directors.

As a boy growing up in Southwest Virginia, Stone worked at his family’s mill and

later helped his family tend to dairy cows. He learned to fish, hunt and ride horses,

activities he enjoyed for most of his life. As a boy, Stone rode a pony several miles

each day to attend school and later showed horses as a teen. Around the age of 65,

Stone bought a professional walking horse stallion, named Hilltopper, with which he

won numerous ribbons showing.

Stone had relatives in Valdosta, Ga., where he attended a year at Emory Junior College

in 1936-1937. After his parents could no longer afford college, Stone returned to

Virginia and worked at a farm, at a mill and as a bill collector before training to

become an Army pilot. He came to Bainbridge in 1943 to attend aviation cadet training

during World War II. He later served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a B-17 bomber

pilot, attaining the rank of Second Lieutenant. He was shot down over Germancontrolled

oil fields in Romania, and was taken as a prisoner of war. He was released

in September 1944 and returned to America via Italy.

Stone married and was a flight instructor at Moody Field in Valdosta, Ga., for a short

time before receiving a medical retirement from the Army in 1945

(due to a backinjury he sustained while flying overseas.)

After getting a degree in agriculture from the University of Georgia, he returned to

Bainbridge for good in 1949, at first working for the hardware store chain owned by

his father-in-law, J.D. Bower Sr., who had been in business since the 1920s. Stone

also worked for Western Auto and a Ford dealership in the 1950s, before starting his

own business.

“I was born in Virginia, but I got here just as fast as I could”, Stone was known for

saying about Bainbridge.

April 17, 2009 was declared “Jim Stone Day” in the City of Bainbridge, marking the

50th anniversary of the first Stone’s store.

Among other contributions to the community, the Stone family has been a major

supporter of the work of the Decatur-Seminole Service Center, which they founded

in 1970 with the help of a federal grant. The Stones had also helped organize the first

special education program in Decatur County in the 1960s. The Service Center, now

run under the Georgia Pines program in Thomasville, provides services and support

to people who have developmental disabilities and offers training and services to

increase their independence in the community.

Stone married Mary Tallulah Bower Stone, on Nov. 1, 1944 at the Bainbridge Air

Base Chapel. Mrs. Stone passed away in October 2011 at the age of 92. They had

two daughters, Laura and Joanna. Stone’s younger brother, Harold, passed away in

2002 after spending the latter part of his life in Bainbridge.

Civic involvement

Stone’s civic involvement included past chairman of the United Way, past president

of the Bainbridge Rotary Club, past president of the Bainbridge-Decatur County

Chamber of Commerce, past president of two local mental health associations, past

chairman of the Bainbridge College Foundation and past chairman of the

Decatur/Seminole County Training Center for the Developmentally Disabled, a

member of the Governor’s Southwest Georgia Regional Mental Health and Mental

Retardation Advisory Council and director of the Southwest Georgia Health Systems

Agency.

His friend Charles Kirbo introduced him to Jimmy Carter, who was at the time

running for Governor of Georgia. Upon his election in 1971, Governor Carter

appointed Stone to a commission which helped recommend candidates for

judgeships around the state. In his book, Stone recalled “Carter, who later became

the 39th President of the United States”coming to Bainbridge to attend Kirbo’s

funeral in 1996 and dropping by Stone’s store.

He was recognized by the Chamber as Bainbridge’s Man of the Year in 1987 and in

2007 he received the Chamber’s Community Service Award. He received the Hero

of Freedom Award at Grace Christian Academy in 2003.

Comments

Jim Stone has contributed immeasurably and unselfishly to the civic, business and

community life of Bainbridge and Decatur County for almost half a century, local

attorney and Rotarian Harold Lambert once said of Stone. Honesty, integrity and fair

dealings have exemplified a very successful and fulfilling life.

The late Raymond Miles, who passed away in 2010, was one of Stone’s business

contemporaries, along with the late Max Langston. Miles renovated an old motel in

West Bainbridge for use as the original service center for developmentally disabled

children. In Stone’s biography, Miles praises Stone’s civic contributions.

I think probably the training center was one of his greatest accomplishments, Miles

said. He had a vision of what could happen and he worked to make it happen … he’s

got plenty of determination … he built his business with hard work and looking after

his customers.

  

BIOGRAPHY

James W. Stone, 94, of Bainbridge, GA, died Thursday, June 7, 2012 at Memorial Manor Nursing Home. A private funeral service will be held on Monday, June 11, 2012 at St. John’s Episcopal Church with The Reverend June Johnson officiating. Interment will be at Oak City Cemetery with Jimmy Dickson, Jon McRae, Buster Bolton, David Bryan, Henry Metcalf, Bobby Cook, Vance Custer, Vic Dickerson, Joe Higdon, Bill Holt, Ed Cole, Thad Pettyjohn, Lou Merritt, Sam Griffin, Harold Lambert, and Tom Wilkerson serving as active pallbearers. The family will receive friends from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Monday, June 11, 2012 at Stone’s Home Center, 601 East Calhoun Street, Bainbridge, GA 39817. Online visitors may sign the guest register at www.iveyfuneral.com. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to St. John’s Episcopal Church, 516 East Broughton Street, Bainbridge, GA 39817 or to the Joanna E. Stone Scholarship Fund, Bainbridge College, P.O. Box 990, Bainbridge, GA 39818. Mr. Stone was born August 13, 1917 in Marion, VA, the son of James Ralph Stone and Laura Belle Groseclose Stone. He was a graduate of Marion High School and a graduate of the University of Georgia. Mr. Stone was a captain of the United States Army Air Corps, serving during World War II. In 1959, he founded Stone’s Inc., which became a nine location retail hardware and building supply company. He was a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church and was involved in many facets of business and civic activities in South Georgia and North Florida. Survivors include his two daughters, Laura Caroline Stone Bridges and Joanna Elisabeth Stone, both of Bainbridge, GA; his two grandsons, Tommy H. Bridges, Jr. and his wife, Kristin Shetler Bridges of Dunwoody, GA, and James Dickinson Bridges of New York City, NY; his two great-grandsons, William Erickson Bridges and Harlin Stone Bridges of Dunwoody, GA; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Mr. Stone was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Bower Stone; and his brother, Harold J. Stone.

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