Spring Arbor University is honored to name our new tennis facility the Ronald L. and Marvel C. Jones Tennis Complex. Ron and Marvel have lived, worked, and worshipped in Jackson County for more than five decades. The family business, Dawn Food Products, Inc., has grown from a small local company to an international corporation serving millions customers around the world.
Upon graduation from college, Ron came back to Jackson to work with his dad at Dawn Foods, then known as Dawn Donut Company, a manufacturing facility producing bakery mixes and concentrates, fillings, frozen products, icings, and glazes. Although Ron studied accounting and psychology during his college years, it is his genuine love of people and desire to serve them with excellence that makes him stand apart from others. More than 50 years later, Ron remains actively involved in the leadership of Dawn, now known as Dawn Food Products, and is an integral part of maintaining the company’s focus on hard work, customer satisfaction and partnership. He continues to encourage the culture of their organization remain faithful to the values which helped create their growth from a small local company to an international giant. This wholehearted focus on their mission, using their Dawn Foods Circle of Excellence as a guide and reminder of the company’s commitment to their customers, products and people, has contributed to the company’s continued success and growth. The third generation of the Jones family, including Ron and Marvel’s daughter Carrie Jones-Barber and other family members are active in the business, and still leading the company following the value system and culture established by the first two generations.
Marvel has been Ron’s supporting partner since they met and married while attending college at Michigan State University. In addition to keeping the home fires burning when their three children were young, she has served others in a wide variety of ways. Before it was fashionable, Marvel saw a need and started an exercise class at Trinity Lutheran School where Carrie, Chris and Connie kept her running for school activities. She also enjoyed serving as a short-term or long-term substitute teacher at Trinity. At their church, Marvel loved being the supervisor of Vacation Bible School for many years. If they are in town when the annual event takes place, she still volunteers to help the new director, if needed. Over the years, several responsibilities within Dawn kept her busy, too, including working as receptionist, doing follow-up calls to customer inquiries from bakers’ conventions, in addition to serving on the Board of Directors and scrupulously preparing the legal documents required. She has taught several sessions of Stephen Ministries workshops and still leads a Bible study for their church. Marvel loves music and was involved with Sweet Adalines for many years; she enjoyed singing in a competitive quartet. While attending college, Marvel stayed active with swimming and tennis, and today still enjoys being active.
Ron and Marvel have both loved and enjoyed tennis for many years. One of their first introductions to Spring Arbor University was through alumni who served as the teaching tennis pros at The Country Club of Jackson while completing their degree at the university. They were impressed by the skill, personality and character of the young men who served in this capacity and those student interactions fostered their interest to know more about our school. Discovering that Spring Arbor University, like Dawn Foods, had stayed true to their mission and vision of being a blessing to others helped them feel a strong kinship with SAU and kindled an appreciation for the university’s leadership.
The example Ron and Marvel have provided for stewardship fits beautifully with the Spring Arbor University Concept and demonstrates one of the ways to become a critical participant in the contemporary world. They give to others as good stewards of God’s abundant blessings in their life and their faithful giving serves as a witness of ways all of us can affect our world. Out of God’s abundant blessings will come generations of graduates who played tennis on these courts and will leave this campus prepared to be strong ambassadors for God’s Kingdom.