Alabama Academy of Honor

Robert Emmett Jones

The following biographical sketch was compiled at the time of induction into the Academy in 1977.

Representative Robert E. Jones was born in Scottsboro June 12, 1912, and attended the public schools in this area. He was graduated from the Law School of the University of Alabama in January 1937 and admitted to the Alabama State Bar the same year.

He was elected judge of County Court in July, 1940, and re-elected in absentia in May 1945 while on duty during World War II as a gunnery officer in the U.S. Navy where he served both in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters.

Mr. Jones was elected to Congress from the 5th District in 1946 shortly after his return from military service. When he announced his decision to retire from public life at the close of the 94th Congress, he was the 16th ranking member of the House of Representatives in terms of continuous service and had served longer than any Alabamian in the history of his native state.

Congressman Jones served on the House Committee of Public Works from the outset of his first term of office in the 80th Congress and at various times in the ensuing 30 years, was an active member or chairman of each of its subcommittees. At the start of the 94th Congress in 1975, he was elected by his colleagues in the House to the Chairmanship of this committee, to which Congress added jurisdiction over civil aviation and the regulatory agencies for air, highway, and water transportation. At the same time, the Committee's title was changed to Committee of Public Works and Transportation to conform to its added responsibilities.

Throughout his distinguished career in Congress, Representative Jones involved himself deeply and energetically in a wide and varied range of legislative issues directly affecting the lives not only of his constituents in Northern Alabama but of all American people. He was particularly concerned with the restoration and preservation of the nation's water resources, with urban and rural transportation, and with economic development of areas of the country that were lagging behind the national progress. These concerns were reflected in the legislation he helped to enact.

High among his many achievements are Mr. Jones' principal sponsorship of the landmark Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1972, the Economic Development Act and The Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965, which brought renewed life and promise of a brighter future to scores of depressed and economically helpless areas of America. He was a major moving force in the creation of the Federal Aid Highway Program, including the Interstate Highway System which today binds together the cities, towns, and rural sectors of the United States and which has been hailed as the greatest single public works project in history. From his earliest days in Congress, Representative Jones was an ardent champion of public works as an instrument for the creation of essential community and regional facilities that would provide opportunities for the increased private employment and higher standard of living for millions of his fellow Americans who had been left out of the mainstream of our national life. His perseverance in the long fight for development of the vast and once-neglected Tennessee Valley area led to the enactment of successive legislation from 1966 to the present that enabled the continued expansion of TVA power resources and assured future supplies of electric energy for industrial growth as well as for farm, home, and commercial use.

In recognition of his wide experience and deep insight into the problems of America's water resources, Representative Jones was named vice chairman of the National Commission of Water Pollution which produced the monumental 1976 report to Congress and the nation on the state of our efforts to preserve them.

Mr. Jones is married to the former Christine Francis and they have a son, Robert E. Jones, III.

Mr. Jones is deceased.