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Charles L. Jones, 81, middle school principal


Charles L. Jones, the first principal of Wilde Lake Middle School in Columbia, died Sunday at his Catonsville home of complications after a series of strokes.

Mr. Jones, who was 81, headed the school from its opening in 1968 until his retirement in 1981. He was principal of Waterloo Middle School for two years before that.

From 1956 until 1966, he was at St. Michaels High School in Talbot County, first as a music teacher who established the school's marching and jazz bands and then as principal.

Dr. Laurence R. Gallager, who had been both his personal physician and parent of a student at Wilde Lake while Mr. Jones was principal, said, "I always enjoyed him. He was easy to talk to. He was very much liked by the students and certainly respected by the parents."

They met in the early 1970s when Mr. Jones recruited Dr. Gallager to serve on an advisory committee on sex education.

Scott Kilmon, the current bands director and instrumental music teacher at St. Michaels and a baritone horn player who had been taught by Mr. Jones, said, "He inspired me to perform music and through that music to become a teacher."

By the time Mr. Kilmon graduated from St. Michaels, Mr. Jones had become the principal and was still in that position by the time Mr. Kilmon completed college. "He hired me, no questions," Mr. Kilmon said.

He said that Mr. Jones "was a nice guy with a real winning way about him" and was good at persuading people to do things, both getting students to learn and the community to help raise money for the band.

"His influence stayed with me for over 30 years," Mr. Kilmon said.

A native of York, Pa., Mr. Jones served as a pharmacist's mate in the Navy during World War II and was a 1948 graduate of Ithaca (N.Y.) College where he earned a master's degree in 1952. He also did graduate work at the Pennsylvania State University and the University of Maryland College Park.

He had also taught at schools in Arlington, Ariz., Manchester, Pa., and Corning, N.Y., before coming to Maryland.

A member of the American Federation of Musicians, he played the trumpet in bands and orchestras for many years and for a time led his own group.

While living on the Eastern Shore, he was choir director at Christ Episcopal Church in Easton and at the church of the same name in St. Michaels.

Mr. Jones was a member of the Zeredatha Lodge of the Masons in York, the Scottish Rite and the Zembo Temple in Harrisburg, Pa.

He also belonged to the American Legion, the Maryland State Teachers Association, the National Education Association, the Maryland and national associations of Secondary School Principals, an organization of retired Howard County teachers and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. today at Episcopal Church of Christ the King, 1930 Brookdale Road in Woodlawn.

He is survived by his wife, the former Gloria Snyder; a son, Charles W. "Chip" Jones of Corning; a daughter, Kristen O'Melia of Westminster; a sister, Mary Worley of Edison, N.J.; and five grandchildren.

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