For nearly 50 years, Ralph Jones has served as a guiding voice and constant presence for Grayson College as a long term member of its board of trustees. For this service, the city of Denison recognized Jones with its Moving Forward, Giving Back Award Monday night.

The award, which was created in 2016, highlights the achievements and efforts of volunteers in Denison who give back and support the city.

“Ralph Jones has been on our Grayson College board of trustees since 1969 and has continued to serve in that capacity since then,” Denison Mayor Jared Johnson said. “The fact is that for 48 years you have served so selflessly and with such high energy.

“You’ve taken your banking industry skill set and you’ve poured it into thousands of students that are in high schools all over the community, … their kids and perhaps grandchildren one day will benefit from the work that you and others have done.”

Jones said his connection with the college dates back even further to 1965 when he served on the committees that first explored the potential of a junior college in Grayson County. At the time, Jones said there were worries that the proposed Grayson College would detract from the nearby Austin College.

“I was interested in the college at the time,” Jones said. “It has offered college courses to a lot of students who otherwise couldn’t go.”

Through these course, Jones said it opened the doors for thousands of local students to attend four-year colleges elsewhere, furthering their education. For others, it offered the opportunity for an associate degree or technical certification and served as a steppingstone into the workforce and future jobs.

Over the years, Jones said the college has changed. In its early years, the college offered degrees and education in agriculture that are no longer part of the curriculum. The college also offered golf, and courses in golf management, he said.

Johnson said the award was meant as a surprise for Jones, who was unaware that he would be receiving an award. Instead, Johnson said Jones was told to attend the meeting to hear College President Jeremy McMillen speak on another item.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work of Ralph Jones,” McMillen said in a news release. “His legacy of leadership for the youth of Denison will serve as a bench mark for years to come. His service to the college and dedication to student success is appreciated.”

Since the award’s creation in 2016, the award has been given out six times. The aware was first presented to Dead Spader for his efforts in coordinating a petition campaign to reduce the city’s alcohol restrictions. This was followed by an award to the Denison Animal Welfare Group for its efforts in service the city’s animal population and Don Banman for his efforts in downtown Denison.

Last November, Susie Munson was presented the award for her efforts and involvement with the Sister Cities partnership with Cognac, France. Most recently, the award was presented to Howard Day for his services as an ambassador to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission.