Paul Craig Jones, whose family said he was the first African-American officer to serve in the , died at the Northport VA Medical Center on Nov. 9. He was 63, and while he had been hospitalized a short time, he had a lengthy illness, according to his family.
Jones, who lived in East Hampton, was known to many as "Pop" or "Pop the Cop." His career in law enforcement spanned over 32 years, including 24 years of service as an officer, starting in the 1970s, and some years as a part-time security sergeant at Southampton College.
"Pop loved what he did and took great pride in serving the public — always with his famous smile," his family said. "He was a dedicated man who took his assignments seriously whether he was on duty as a school crossing guard, traffic patrol or working a major investigation."
He was born on Nov. 21, 1947 in Southampton to the late William and Gertrude Walker Jones. Raised in Bridgehampton, he graduated from . At a young age he joined the historic in the Eastville section of Sag Harbor.
After graduation, he served in the Air Force until he was called home due to his mother's terminal illness. He was honorably discharged in 1971 and returned home to care for his younger siblings.
Jones married the Rev. Dr. Connie Smith and soon joined in East Hampton. They were married for 40 years and had two children, Jeremy Kim Jones and Paul Craig Jones III, both of whom live in East Hampton. Another son, Paul Anthony Jones of Brooklyn, and a stepson, Joseph Kennedy Smith of Jonesboro, Ga., also survive Jones.
"In the early years, he would take the family to church, the local drive-in movie and on many trips," his family said. He loved to fish and to ride his motorcycles.
As his illness progressed, the highlight of his day was reading a newspaper with a coffee and danish at the . He was limited to short walks in his yard at home, where he would shoo the deer from his shrubs, his family said. "Another favorite pastime was when he sat on the deck waiting for something good off the grill and watching the grandchildren play and swim in the pool."
In addition to his wife and children, Jones is survived by a sister, Gertrude White of Kissimmee, Fla., and seven grandchildren; , Kennedy Smith, Jeremy and Syvanious Webb, Connelly and Tynsley Smith and Paul Craig Jones IV.
His siblings Celestine Jones, Clarence Jones and Howard Williams predeceased him.
A funeral was held at Calvary Baptist Church on Monday, with honors from the local police departments. A burial followed at the Calverton National Cemetery.