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Doug Jones knew he wanted to help others--troubled juveniles, as it turned out.
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By Jennifer Strobel
By JENNIFER MILLER STROBEL
Like many recent college graduates, Doug
The Lynchburg native had graduated in 1971 from St. Paul's College in Lawrenceville, majoring in sociology and history.
He and his new wife, Gale, had moved to Fredericksburg, where she had a teaching job in the original Walker-Grant Middle School.
He had joined the National Guard, training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Even then, Jones' leadership and people skills were evident. Upon completion of training, he had earned the American Spirit Honor Medal, the highest medal awarded an Army trainee.
The summer of 1972, on leave in Fredericksburg, he'd set up some job interviews in Washington, but nothing was certain.
Then he noticed The Free Lance-Star article that set him on his life's course--and put him in the position to help others, just as he'd hoped.
The article that caught his eye told of construction of the region's first juvenile detention center. He met with the contact person mentioned in the article to discuss his possible interest in working for the center.
A few months later, his discharge from the service coincided with completion of construction, and he was on board as the first resident supervisor of the Rappahannock Juvenile Detention Center.
In the 40 intervening years since that fateful nudge, he worked his way through a social worker position to assistant superintendent to, finally, in 2003, superintendent.
When he retired this fall, he was the longest-serving juvenile justice employee in Virginia. Carla White is his successor as superintendent.
To say Jones knew the operation of the center inside-out, from the ground up, is an understatement.
"Forty years dedicated to one facility. That's just amazing," said Michael Fields, his longtime colleague and another of the "originals" from the center.
Fields, who retired in 2007, called Jones the center's "heart and soul."