Ms. Hendry, who recently retired herself, paid tribute to Mr. Jones at the Dec. 8 board meeting of the Menlo Park City School District, where Mr. Jones was honored with a resolution honoring his service and a custom barbecue tools kit from the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation.
Outside of his regular school duties, Mr. Jones donated a barbecued rib dinner to the school foundation's annual auction that, over the years, generated about $100,000 for the school community, said Shari Conrad, a member of the foundation.
Board member Jeff Child joked that at his first foundation auction, he bid on the rib dinner only to see it go to someone else who bid about 10 times what he'd offered. Board member Laura Rich said she'd finally gotten him to disclose his secret recipe, but since it involved staying up all night to prepare the ribs, it was unlikely that she'd ever cook them herself.
Mr. Jones' collection of outlandish hats, from wizard to cowboy to Cat-in-the-Hat, has swelled to over 100, and is stored in the school's multi-use room.
"I remember that before my kids ever went to Laurel, they saw him with his big hat and my kids knew that Laurel was a good place," Ms. Conrad said.
Referring to the myriad other tasks that Mr. Jones took on, from serving as DJ at events to making sure the book fair ran smoothly, Ms. Conrad said, "There wasn't a hat Mr. Jones couldn't wear if you just asked him."
Students at Laurel, a K-2 public school in Atherton, paid tribute to Mr. Jones at their Holiday Sing performance on Dec. 11.
The board's proclamation praised Mr. Jones as "a giant amid his pint-sized charges" and a "custodian extraordinaire," saying that board members "reluctantly" accepted his decision to retire.
"You guys have been family to me for a long time," a visibly moved Mr. Jones told the school board and assembled faculty, staff and parents at the meeting.
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