This was originally posted on Friday, April 7, 2017 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
More than 400 friends, family and work colleagues came to Bremen’s Mill Town Music Hall Thursday to wish off Tallapoosa’s hometown favorite and legendary country DJ Warren “Rhubarb” Jones with stories, jokes and songs.
It was the same location where Jones five days earlier had MCed a Mickey Gilley concert. He frequently MCed and promoted shows at the venue, which is a mere 15 minutes from his residence in Tallapoosa.
Several of his closest friends provided long, often rambling, tributes to the man they knew and loved, from his childhood up to just a few days earlier, 65 years of full livin’. Country artists T. Graham Brown and Shenandoah lead singer Marty Raybon sang gospel songs in his honor. His ol’ rival Moby and many of his former radio station buddies showed up, along with much of Tallapoosa’s finest. Dozens of flower arrangements lined the front of the stage from all parts of his life, including the country music world, with Travis Tritt, Charlie Daniels and the Oak Ridge Boys sending regards.
“He was the greatest unelected politician in Georgia,” said writer Jimmy Carter. “He was the greatest Southern preacher who was never a preacher. He would have been a great cartoon character… He was an unforgettable friend.”
Carter listed many adjectives describing Jones: “He was really funny. He was bright. You have to be pretty smart to be funny. He was quick, very quick. He drove quick. This is not meant to be derogatory but a fourth thing that came to mind is childlike. I watched him go through the aquarium in Chattanooga. It was like watching my children. Donna [his ex wife] and I did our own thing. He touched the fish, whatever he did. He was curious. God, he was curious. He was friendly. He was loud… He was lovable. He was compassionate. That should be higher up on the hit parade. He was a ham. Not beef or pork. Ham. Impulsive, oh yah!”
Jones died of a heart attack at the Walmart in Bremen at age 65. This led to many Walmart stories. Scott Whitlock, who was one of Jones’ closest friends, said they would go to Hilton Head, S.C. every year and a six-hour trip became a much longer trip for one reason: Walmart. “You got to stop at the Walmart in Dublin. Then you have to go 30 miles and stop at the Walmart in Metter. Then he heard there was a new going south on 95 toward Florida we’d go by before we go north to Hilton Head. This was a Saturday ritual before we go to the rental house. I just wanted to get to the rental house!”
Keith Connors, who worked with Jones on his Y106 morning show in the 1980s, said Jones went to Walmart not just for the cool Dale Earnhardt caps. “That was his excuse,” Connors said. “Rhubarb went to Walmart because that’s where his people were. In radio language, that’s where his demographic was. Rhubarb had to be among his people, where he could be Rhubarb.”
Here is a clip of “In the Garden” sung by T. Graham Brown: