T.C.Williams’ 1971 Titan football champion Petey Jones passed Monday.
Jones, who was a member of the team immortalized in the Disney movie Remember the Titans, never left ACPS – working as a security officer for nearly 30 years until he retired last year. He will be remembered for his community activism and for being a part of the 1971 championship football team that helped bring a divided Alexandria together.
T.C.’s Principal, Pete Balas said Jones was a Titan in the truest sense of the word.
He devoted much of his life to T.C. Williams High School and formed many great relationships with staff and students. He inspired and guided our students with compassion, integrity and kindness. I was always astounded when visitors came to T.C. to see the school memorialized in Hollywood history and had time to interact with Petey to talk about our school and its rich history. Petey was always generous with his time and wisdom with our guests, often leaving them in tears of emotion and joy.”
Jones had been the starting fullback on George Washington High School’s football team and starting point guard on the basketball team, but in 1971 his school along with Francis C. Hammond High School merged to form one Alexandria high school, T.C. Williams. Like the other varsity players, Jones spent his senior year at T.C. trying to regain his claim as a dominant player. Jones said rivals from three high schools came together to win that year and, in so doing, brought a racially divided city together along with them.
It will be hard to hear, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” without thinking of Jones who credited music, and that song in particular, with bringing his white and black team mates together that year. ACPS interviewed Jones in October 2018 where he shared his experiences as a Titan and sang a bit for us.
A lot of great friends developed from this team, both black and white,” Jones said.
Jones told local reporters last year, that the story of equity and justice have moved on from just black and white to include the world. “Back then, everything was black and white. Now, you’ve got kids coming from all over the world. The big difference between us is… they’ve got more things to deal with than we did.”
In 1990, Jones met secretly with then-President George H. W. Bush to discuss efforts to clean up public housing units of drugs. He is now honored by the City’s African American Hall of Fame as an activist and public servant and in the Congressional Record.
T.C. Williams, where Jones worked, has students from 114 countries that speak 119 languages.
This week Jones’ story and the topic of equity became a national discussion when the story was taken up by NBC’s Today Show.
Petey’s Homegoing Service will be held at Bethlehem Baptist Church, 7836 Fordson Road, Alexandria, VA, on Friday, July 12, 2019. The viewing will start at 10 a.m. and the funeral at 11:30 a.m.