by Julia Heming of Express News Group, September 9, 2021
Friends and family of Arthur Jones of Hampton Bays say he had a lust for life, and though his own life ended in the September 11 terrorist attacks, his legacy continues in the Hampton Bays community through an annual scholarship.
Mr. Jones, known to many as Art, was a 1982 alum of Hampton Bays High School and went on to work at Carr Futures on the 92nd floor of the North Tower. A resident of Ossining, he was 37.
“Art was one of those people you would describe as being larger than life. Not just because he was almost 6 feet 4 inches tall, but because of his warm, outgoing and memorable personality,” said Carol Francolini, Mr. Jones’s widow, who returned to Hampton Bays last winter. “People wanted to be near him, because they felt special when they were around him.”
The scholarship was established and awarded in 2002, with the intention of keeping Mr. Jones’s legacy alive. Scott Jones, Art’s brother, and a group of high school friends decided to establish the scholarship.
“At the time, everyone felt so helpless, and this was a way for them to make a positive difference in the community and also a way to honor and remember Art,” said Ms. Francolini.
In the beginning years of the fund, the goal was to award two basketball players, one male and one female, a $2,500 scholarship each. Mr. Jones graduated Hampton Bays High School in 1982 and attended Hamilton College on a basketball scholarship before graduating in 1986.
Now, it has grown to a fund for community support in addition to the scholarships.
“We have put more focus on worthy initiatives and have helped with everything from the Special Olympics and the Lions Club, to assisting several local families dealing with illness or tragedy. In the midst of the pandemic, we even purchased and donated N95 masks to local doctors and hospitals,” said Ms. Francolini.
In addition, the fund installed a “Buddy Bench” at Hampton Bays Elementary School. The bench allows for a safe place for students to sit when they are feeling lonely, and it’s an unspoken rule that when a student is on the bench, someone else is expected to go over and sit with them.
“Out of college, he was a very bright person who had a lust for life. And so we look for those kinds of students — you know, that kid who interviews and shows a real passion for something, and a real lust for life, and they’re a student-athlete. They’re involved in their community,” said Thomas Crowley, treasurer for the AJJ Fund.
Many scholarship recipients are honored to have received the award, and they recognize that there is more to their award than just the monetary aspect. Every recipient represents the best parts of Art Jones.
The athletic aspect of the scholarship is meant to continue to foster a passion for sports.
“I would not be here creating these moments as an NYU softball player without the help of the scholarship,” said Lily Candelaria, a 2020 scholarship recipient, now a student at New York University.
“Above all, I have learned to work harder in the face of adversity and challenging competition when it comes to athletics,” she added
“As someone whose father was affected by 9/11, it has been a special honor to carry on Art’s legacy for his own family as a thriving college athlete with the same hometown roots,” added Ms. Candelaria, whose father was responsible for deploying State Troopers and police officers from Long Island to Ground Zero, and supervised troopers doing perimeter security and escorting the bodies of victims to the morgue in Manhattan.
“It has impacted me in a way that has pushed me to give as much time as I can in order to give back to other people,” said Sean Noonan, a 2019 recipient. Mr. Noonan attends Penn State University.
For other students, despite having never met Mr. Jones and having no connection other than the scholarship, they now think about him frequently.
“Art and I had a lot in common. Art lived each day with passion as I do, and I’m so grateful to be one of the amazing people who also received this,” said Emma Naclerio, a Class of 2021 recipient who will attend the University of Albany. “I always have his memory in the back of my heart and mind.”
In the 2021 year, the fund was able to provide $26,000 in scholarships. The scholarship allows the opportunity for students to focus on the parts of college life that reflect a way of life for Mr. Jones — enjoying every moment with friends and family.
“By alleviating some of the stress of paying for college, receiving the Art Jones Scholarship let me focus more on learning and enjoying my time at Brown University. This improved focus likely played an important part in guiding my career choice of becoming a research scientist in biomechanics,” said Pawel Golyski, 2011 recipient.
Having received the scholarship, these students attempt to apply Mr. Jones’s passion for life and his friends and family to their own. “One quality of Art Jones I try to apply is maintaining strong relationships with friends from different parts of my life,”said Mr. Golyski. “Those relationships, in addition to my family, are my primary anchors.”
The fund also hopes that the scholarship motivates recipients to participate in the future of the fund.
“And we tell them, hey, you know when you’re done with college, you need to come and be part of this group and help us pick the next winners 10 years from now and five years from now — we want them to stay involved,” said Mr. Crowley.
“I am confident that the AJJ Scholarship Fund will be around for a long time,” said Ms. Francolini. “Our executive board consists of 13 amazing people who are enthusiastic about our cause, and this year we also established a junior board with the hopes that the second generation will continue to carry on our mission with new ideas and passion.
“Most importantly, we have created an endowment fund managed by an investment firm to ensure that the fund can sustain itself for many, many years to come,” she added.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Jones was survived by their four children: Julia, 27, Charlotte, 25, Cary, 22, and Joseph, 19. Julia and Cary are both active participants in the fund and have roles on the junior board now.
“Of course, people want to honor and remember him, but it’s Art who is still bringing everyone together — high school friends, college friends, fraternity brothers, co-workers and people who never even knew him but feel like they do. It’s really beautiful,” said Ms. Francolini.
For the opportunity to donate or apply for the scholarship, visit ajjscholarshipfund.org.