Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record
Punch Jones, longtime Lea County cattle and sheep rancher (with a passion for race horses) rejoined the love of his life and wife of 62 years, Suzanne, and his beloved daughter, Michelle, on November 28, 2017, following a short illness at the age of 89 years.
Born on November 5, 1928 to Amos Dee Jones and Portia Jones, Punch spent his early years splitting time between schooling in Roswell and working on the Jones Ranch west of Tatum. Born Ralls C. Jones, his name “Punch” was given to him by his father as a shorten version of “cow puncher”. He quickly developed a reputation for hard work, honesty and a firm hand shake. These attributes earned him the respect of not only his peers, but also generations which have followed.
A graduate of Roswell High School, Punch attended New Mexico State University to study animal husbandry where he helped organize the NMSU rodeo association. Being shortly after the war, he went home to assist his mother with the management of the ranch in an effort to keep troops supplied with beef and lamb.
In 1950, Punch traveled with his mother to Australia for several months to study the sheep and livestock industry. While in Australia, he was the subject of a full blown article in the Australia version of Glamour magazine, in which the writer described Punch as a younger version of Gary Cooper (for the younger generation, a famous movie star of the time) with his western attire and gentlemanly demeanor.
Punch then returned to New Mexico to further the development of the Debouillet breed of sheep, which is known for high quality wool. His efforts led to the official recognition of the breed by the United States Department of Agricultural in 1954. It is the only breed of sheep recognized by the USDA as originating in the United States.
While attending college, Punch saw his first match race and was hooked for life. He then hauled a load of broom-tailed, rough broke ranch horses to the livestock auction, which netted him a total of $12. When asked why he made such a foolish move, he stated “I wanted to buy a race horse”. His initial efforts to get into the race horse business were not entirely successful.
In 1952, Punch met his mate for life, Suzanne Norton Jones, an internationally renowned equestrian. They married in 1954. Along with Suzanne came a young mare named Maroon. Maroon was highly successful, both at the race track and as a producer. She served as Punch’s foundation mare. Punch remained in the race horse business until his passing. Maroon will be inducted into the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame in 2018.
Known as a horseman’s horseman, a cattleman’s cattleman, sheepman’s sheepman, and a true gentleman, Punch received numerous honors and served on numerous boards. He was inducted into the American Quarter Horse Association Hall of Fame, along with his wife, Suzanne, the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame and the Ruidoso Downs Racehorse Hall of Fame, to mention a few. He was also honored as the New Mexico Sheepman of the Year, New Mexico Horsebreeder of the Year and was honored in 2000 with the first Annual Southwest Cowboy Celebration, which highlighted the A.D. Jones Ranch’s contribution to the culture of the Southwest. While he received many accolades and awards, his greatest pride was . . . his family.
Punch is survived by his daughter, Debbie Jones, also of Tatum, and his sons, Clabe Jones (and his wife, Vanda) of Joseph, Utah and Dirk Jones (and his wife, Tricia) of Roswell. He is also survived by Aja Palmer, Beverly Heird Flores, Josh Heird, Levie Jones, Portia Jones, Rebekah Jones, Chaundra Jones, July Jones, and Tara Jones, his grandchildren; and, Alex Flores, Joshua Flores, Jack Flores, Kason Fitzgerald, Korina Jones and Analyse Jones, his great-grandchildren. Preceding his passing were his parents, Dee and Portia Jones, his siblings, Ladye Dee Remmele, Mary Helen Skeen, Amos Dixon Jones and Dorothy Jones, his daughter Michelle Jones Palmer, and granddaughter Nisha Hood.
A celebration of Punch’s life will be held on December 15, 2017 at Christ’s Church, 2200 N. Sycamore, Roswell, New Mexico. All are invited to a cowboy lunch starting at 11:30 a.m., followed by services at 1:00 p.m. and interment at South Park Cemetery. Viewing will be available at Anderson Bethany Funeral Home from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., December 14, 2017.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack Chapel (building fund), c/o Chaplain Darrell Winter, PO Box 449, Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico 88346 or Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, Thunderbird Circle, Hobbs, New Mexico 88240.
Celebrate Punch’s life by visiting www.andersonbethany.com to offer a memory or expression of sympathy for his family.
This tribute was lovingly written in honor of Punch by his family.