|Born in Butler, Alabama to Rev. and Mrs. R.K. Jones, Lael came from a long tradition of Methodist ministers. His father was a Methodist minister in the Alabama-West Florida Conference and his mother was a daughter of a Methodist minister. His mother had three brothers that were also Methodist ministers.
He was one of thirteen—five boys and eight girls. All five boys were ministers and one sister married a Methodist minister, all from Alabama. He was taught printing from his father which gave him the ability to have beautiful bulletins throughout his ministries.
Lael graduated from Milsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi and from Candler School of Theology, Emory University, Georgia. He was a member of ODK (Omicron Delta Kappa) Fraternity, Who’s Who and the Milsaps Choir.
He married Frances Mittye (Polly) Towne of Delta, Louisiana November 6, 1945. They had one child named Cary Frances who married Lyman L. Watson presently residing in Zachary, Louisiana. He also had one granddaughter, Cary Mittye Watson presently residing in Houston.
Prior to 1950, he was a member of the Mississippi Conference. He became a member of the Louisiana Conference in 1950. He served in the following capacities: Chairperson of Commission of Worship, Chairperson of Public Relations and Methodist Information, member of the Conference Council on Ministries, Secretary of the Board of Ordained Ministry, Assistant Secretary to the Conference, and as a member of the Board of Global ministries.
History of Service: 1945 – Served the Eden Charge, Eden, Mississippi for one year (Churches included Eden, Tranquil, Bethany, Fletcher’s Chapel and Pleasant Hill); 1946-1948 – Served three appointments while a theology student (Pembroke, NC; Smith’s Station Charge, Smiths Station, AL; and Dunwoody, GA); 1948 – Ordained Deacon in Mississippi Conference; 1948-1949 – Vidalia Methodist Church (Vidalia, LA); 1950-1955 – Mangham Charge – Mangham, Crowville, Little Creek, Union (Mangham, LA); 1952 – Ordained Elder; 1955-1958 – MerRouge/Bonne Idee (Mer Rouge, LA); 1958-1960 – St. Bernard Methodist (Chalmette, LA); 1960-1965 – First Methodist (Baker, LA); 1965-1966 – Parker Memorial Methodist (New Orleans, LA); 1966-1973 – Thibodeaux Charge – First Church Thibodaux, Gibson, Vacherie, Campus Minister of Nicholls State University (Thibodaux, LA); 1973-1976 – Haynesville/Shongaloo (Haynesville, LA); 1976-1983 – Centenary (Franklinton, LA); 1983-1988 Mangum Memorial (Shreveport, LA); 1988-1993 – University UMC (Lake Charles, LA); June 1993 – officially retired at Louisiana Annual Conference after 48 years of ministry to United Methodist Churches. Upon retirement, resided in Zachary, Louisiana with his wife Polly. He served the following part-time appointments: 1993-1994 – Carpenter’s Chapel (Galvez, LA) and lastly in 1994 joined Bethel United Methodist Church (Pride, LA) where he pastored until his death on October 17, 1997.
His greatest pleasure in life was to help his fellow man without regard of their station in life. He served his community by being a member of the following organizations: Rotary Club, Lions Club, and Master Mason. One of his greatest joys was being Santa Claus for the young and old. The way any age greets Santa is with joy and love. This was just another way that he received joy in serving others.
His main hobby was collecting and repairing old clocks. His close friends will always remember this statement, “People have faces, clocks have dials.” Another passion of Lael’s was to write poetry. The following poem, which was written by Lael, describes his devotion to his friends.
I have the nicest kind of friends
A friend is one who knows you well
A friend is made to be enjoyed
I want to have the kind of friends
He was a man of superlatively high standards, complete integrity, and boundless enthusiasm for whatever task he addressed. No one whose privilege it was to know him is likely to forget the candor of his speech, the courage of his faith, the warm and glowing brightness of his friendship. He never dodged a responsibility, never refused to take on a hard job if it needed to be done. What he preached, he practiced. What he believed, he believed with heart and soul. Despite his very active life in the community and the numerous demands upon his time, he was first and foremost a family man. He loved to be with his family. He was a devoted husband to his wife for more than 52 years. He was also an affectionate father, father-in-law, and grandfather. Family and friends will forever cherish his memory.
|Source: Journal Louisiana Conference 1998, p. 251 By Cary Frances Watson|