York County Family Court Judge Tony Jones has died after a battle with cancer, officials said.
Jones, 61, of Rock Hill was a South Carolina Family Court Judge since his election to the bench in 2013. Jones died Thursday at home.
“Judge Tony Jones believed that every kid that came in his courtroom was his own kid,” said Judge David Guyton, the other York County Family Court judge. “He cared for children like they were his own. He loved these children, and he cared deeply for how they would make it in life.”
Jones kept a full caseload until recent weeks after his cancer diagnosis, Guyton said.
“Judge Jones worked every day of his life to try and make the lives of children better,” Guyton said. “He worked when most men would stay home.”
Jones held a juvenile drug court and was known at courthouses around the state for having children grow vegetables to teach lessons about responsibility and creating an environment for all to grow and succeed.
“That garden was always a symbol of the growth that Tony believed was in every kid,” Guyton said.
Jones was known for his intolerance for demeaning language or actions toward children, and his demand for equal treatment for all people. In a 2018 school fight case that garnered statewide attention because it stemmed from a racial slur, Jones said in court “there is no place in society for racial slurs.”
In another case involving a stabbing of one child by another, Jones said in court that all children should be free from fights, violence and being targets of bullies.
“Everybody has a right to walk free in our schools, our parks, our community and be free from bullying,” Jones said in court in that case.
S.C. State Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, said Jones’ legacy as a judge will continue. Jones was a longtime lawyer in Rock Hill who before becoming a judge was president of the county bar association and chairman of the board of the Children’s Attention Home that serves children in crisis.
“Judge Jones served his community, his state and the children of South Carolina with dignity and love,” Simrill said.
An election to fill Jones’ seat will likely be held in 2020, officials said.
The funeral for Judge Jones is set for 2 p.m. Sunday at Mount Holly United Methodist Church in Rock Hill.