The Hall of Famous Missourians was originally established by members of the House of Representatives, and choosing a new inductee to this Hall is at the prerogative of the current Speaker of the House. The unofficial rules that were adopted specify that selection of members to the Hall would not be a matter of partisan politics and that no living politician would be inducted. Selections are to honor the achievements of the greatest of Missouri’s citizens.
The first inductee into the Hall was on September 8, 1982, and it was no surprise that Mark Twain was selected. On March 29, 1983, George Washington Carver—especially dear to us in southwest Missouri—was inducted. The expense of the gallery has always been maintained by private contributions and no state funds are expended for its upkeep.
Other famous Missourians who are members of the Hall include Thomas Hart Benton, Daniel Boone, Charles Lindbergh, Harry S. Truman, Walt Disney, J.C. Penney, baseball great Stan Musial, and others, including our newest inductee, Edward Jones.
Ted Jones, Jr. was born and raised in St. Louis. After WWII, he worked at the NY Stock Exchange before joining his father, Edward Jones, Sr. at the investment company his father started. Ted Jones saw the financial services business much differently than did his father and, consequently, recognized the opportunity to bring highly personalized plans of financial services to investors and communities of all sizes, both large and small. Jones believed the people in rural areas also needed quality financial advisors, and so in 1957 he opened the first branch office in Mexico, Missouri. The concept of branch offices set the Edward Jones company apart from other financial firms, and under Jones’ leadership, the company became a Fortune 500 firm. Today, this business has more than 12,000 branch offices serving 7 million clients across the U.S. and Canada. The company ranks number six in Fortune Magazines’ 100 Best Companies to Work For in 2015.
Ted Jones (who died in 1990) and his wife, Pat, who was present during the induction ceremony, shared a lifetime passion for nature and conservation and had a devoted love for the farm lands of our state. They recognized the potential to turn a 225 mile stretch of abandoned railroad into a Missouri state park and were generous donors and the driving force behind the creation of the Katy Trail, which is now a segment of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the American Discovery Trail. Because of their efforts and leadership, the trail attracts 400,000 hikers, cyclists, and joggers each year.
During the induction ceremony, Speaker of the House, Todd Richardson made this comment about Jones’ life: “From his incredible vision and work ethic in his professional life to his passion for the natural beauty of our great state of Missouri, to his devotion to his friends and family in his personal life, Ted Jones was a role model for all of us who hope to achieve that perfect balance in all aspects of our lives.”
Besides Jones being one of our state’s most successful businessmen and dedicated conservationists, it is fitting to know he is now a part of an impressive list of individuals who made a lasting impact on our nation and on our state.