Donors Honor Their Father and His Railroad Ties

October 1, 2016

Topeka, Kan. – Ilene (Jones) Ecord and her brother, Don Jones, grew up in a railroad family. Their father, Gomer Jones, worked for the Santa Fe Railway for 40 years and firmly believed in the importance of his industry to the country and Topeka. Now, Gomer’s children are sharing those values with the next generation.

Ilene and Don are establishing the Gomer D. Jones Diesel Technology Fund, which will provide scholarships for students enrolled in the locomotive diesel technology program at Washburn University Institute of Technology (Washburn Tech). The program, in partnership with the BNSF Railway, prepares graduates to inspect, maintain, troubleshoot and repair locomotives. 

In addition, the Jones family presented an antique, Seth Thomas clock that was used by the Santa Fe Railway System at one of its Texas train stations in the early 1900s. These regulator clocks were widely used as the Standard Clock in railroad stations across North America. It will be displayed in the locomotive diesel classroom on the Washburn Tech campus along with an historic photograph of their father and a Santa Fe locomotive.

Gomer Jones graduated from Iowa State University with a mechanical engineering degree. He then went to work for the Santa Fe Railway where he joined the test department. Jones was instrumental in the railroad’s conversion from coal and fuel oil to diesel. He retired from the Santa Fe in 1966 when he was 65 years old.

Ilene (Jones) Ecord attended Washburn University where she was a music major. Ilene and her late husband, Jack Ecord, created and funded the Jack and Ilene Ecord Current Gift Fund. Ilene’s brother, Don Jones, was a college professor and was on the faculties of University of Michigan and Oregon State University.