WASHINGTON, DC (Gray News) - From the left to the right -- Walter Jones is remembered Monday on Capitol Hill as a man of principle, devoted to those who served in the Armed Forces.
“He really was driven by his heart,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), “sometimes we disagreed with his positions, but I never questioned his motivations.”
Veterans Affairs Administration Sec. Robert Wilkie grew up on Fort Bragg – and grew close to both Rep. Walter Jones and his namesake father who held the same congressional seat before him. “The bottom line for [Rep. Walter Jones] was always what’s beneficial, what helps those in uniform, which is very special for me coming from that world. He was always willing to help out, he was always willing to listen.”
Jones’ willingness to stand on principle and buck his party cost him powerful positions on Capitol Hill, but also won him plenty of friends, perhaps none closer than Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC). Here’s part of our conversation about a legacy and friendship that crossed party lines.
“My condolences go out to the constituents of Walter Jones, and to the Jones family, the people of Pitt County who loved and benefited from Walter Jones’ service, he will really be missed.” Rep. GK Butterfield (D-NC) said. “We were friends even before we came to Congress, but our friendship deepened once we started serving together.”
Kyle Midura: What made him a great friend, what made him a great lawmaker?
GK: “Walter was authentic, we all serve in a political environement here in Washington, and it’s so easy to put spin on things… to establish positions based on expediency. But, Walter was not one of those. He had a deep faith in God, and his political beliefs were rooted in his religious beliefs.”
KM: What can Congress learn from Rep. Jones?
GK: “in order for the Congress to work effectively, we’ve got to have more bi-partisanship on the hill. And, right now, we’ve seen the days of bi-partisanship evaporate… Walter and I would engage in personal conversations almost every day here on Capitol Hill. He would talk about the political issues that faced our state he would talk about his regret for having voted for involvement in Iraq and what he was doing to atone for that vote… He was the military congressman, the epitome of being a military congressman. He supported our military; he supported our veterans, and he demonstrated that every day. Anyone who knew Walter Jones knew that he was an independent thinker.”
The Capitol’s flags are at half-staff Monday night. Jones’ former colleagues are also expected to memorialize him on the House floor.