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Volunteer dog walker collapses, later dies

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Bob Jones’ death shocks, saddens Simpsonville

By Lisa King

In a tragic twist of fate, a Simpsonville resident collapsed Monday while doing something he loved to do – walking a dog.

Robert G. Jones, 85, died the next day at the Baptist Healthcare facility in Louisville.

“It has shaken up a lot of people in the community and here at the store,” said Charlie Metzger, co-owner of Metzger’s Country Store. “I mean, for something like this to happen to someone as nice as Bob, well, it’s just been very traumatic for us. There’s just so much emotional pain, because he was so special.”

Jones, a long-time customer of Metzger’s, had been a volunteer at the facility, working with the animals the store has up for adoption, Metzger said, and was walking a dog the day he collapsed.

“He was out walking one of the dogs, and somebody, some passersby, saw him laying in the grass and they came running,” he said.

He said Jones never walked very far and had just started his walk when he collapsed on the hill in front of the store, along U.S. 60.

Metzger said several people stopped their cars and got out, calling 911 and staying with Jones until the Simpsonville Fire Department arrived, just a few minutes later.

Metzger he does not know what happened to cause Jones to collapse or what his cause of death was.

“The day that it happened, he had gotten tired earlier in the day; he went home and then decided to come back,” Metzger said, adding that he seemed his normal self when he returned.

Shelby County Assistant Fire Chief Jeff Ivers said that when crews arrived, Jones was in cardiac arrest.

“He was unresponsive and had to be resuscitated,” Ivers said, adding that Jones was taken to Jewish Hospital Shelbyville and then transported later that day to Louisville.

Metzger said just the fact that Jones came back after he had obviously been feeling ill, demonstrated his deep devotion to animals.

“He loved coming over here to walk the animals, that was his passion,” Metzger said. “His joy was taking care of the animals; he loved walking the dogs.”

That love was mutual, Metzger said, as if the animals knew of Jones’ devotion, and returned it.

“The dog he was walking, it could have run away [when Jones collapsed],” Metzger said. “But it stayed right there beside him, right by Bob’s side.”

Even though he was a long-time customer and a volunteer for the store, Metzger said he didn’t really know the depth of Jones’ character until after passed away. As the news began to spread throughout the community and people began to stop in the store and share memories of Jones, Metzger said he began to realize just how much Jones had meant to so many in Simpsonville.

“It’s kind of like the onion: The more layers you peel off, the deeper you get,” he said.

“People have been coming in here sharing stories about him, and the more I find out about him, the more I find out how much he was loved,” he said.

Jones was retired from Purnell Sausage Co. and was a Navy veteran.  He was a member and deacon at Simpsonville Baptist Church. His wife, Lorena Jones, was deceased, and he had two children, Kitty L. Brady of Simpsonville and David A. Jones of Taylorsville as well as a brother, Jimmie R. Jones of Texas.

Metzger said he was glad Jones got to spend the last week of his life enjoying happy times.

“He had just come back from out west from a wonderful trip with his daughter,” he said. “I just know that he is going to be sorely missed by a lot of people. I wish I could have known him better. His interest was in animals, so we had that common bond.

“The dog staying with Bob just speaks for itself about Bob’s relationship with animals. He was a very remarkable man. He touched a lot of lives in the community.”