3/13/2018 4:24:00 PM Accomplished Jackson businessman, civic leader, Greg Fields, dies Saturday
In a recent photograph, Greg Fields (right) poses with his wife of 49 years, Sally. Mr. Fields died this past Saturday at the age of 70 after an accomplished life and career in Jackson. (Photo Courtesy of the Fields Family)
Accomplished entrepreneur and astute businessman. Educational supporter and fund-raiser. Civic leader and community supporter. A behind-the-scenes difference maker and doer. Dedicated family man. Stalwart friend. Lover of life.
All of these labels aptly describe longtime Jackson resident Jon Gregory (Greg) Fields, who died at the age of 70 last Saturday morning, March 10 at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus after a brief illness. His untimely and premature death cut short a vigorous and accomplished life which has unquestionably left positive and lasting ripples over many facets of Jackson County life and left the community with a great sense of loss.
At a young age, Fields moved with his parents and three brothers from Kentucky to the Jackson area. He graduated from Jackson High School in 1966, then earned a degree in Health, Physical Education and Recreation from the University of Rio Grande. He and his wife, the former Sally Jenkins, then headed to Live Oak, Florida where he was employed as the recreational director for the Florida Sheriff's Boys Ranch. They returned to Jackson in 1972 and he began what turned out to be a highly successful career in local business.
Fields owned and operated and built up two major local businesses in the Jackson area, Sanitary Commercial Services (SCS) and the Dallas Automotive Group.
Before he sold it, Fields turned SCS from a one-landfill operation into a company with three landfills servicing customers in 21 counties. Not too many years later, he plunged into the automotive business with the purchase of what was then Dallas Chevrolet in downtown Jackson. He grew this into the Dallas Automotive Group by acquiring the franchises for Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick and relocated the business to much larger quarters farther east on East Main Street in the original location of the Jackson Walmart store. Unfortunately, the demise of General Motors led to the closing of the dealership in 2010.
More recently, he worked as the operations manager of recycling at the Ohio Precious Metals plant in Jackson and also was a real estate agent with Appalachia Realty of Jackson.
Wearing a different hat, Fields also once served as chairman of the University of Rio Grande Board of Trustees and chaired a successful corporate fundraising campaign that generated $11 million for the university with $4 million of that amount being directly attributed to his personal relationship building and networking with corporate contributors.
Fields also worked behind the scenes with others to help bring hundreds of jobs to Jackson as a member of the Jackson CIC. He was also active in civic life and served as the president of such important service organizations as the Jackson Area YMCA and the Jackson Rotary Club.
One of the people who knew him best, Jackson resident and businessman Alan Stockmeister, was greatly saddened by the loss of a man he counted as a great personal friend, a valued compatriot and colleague, and a community benefactor.
"He loved his family, his community and his friends," Stockmeister told The Telegram. "He was committed to always working to improve Jackson County and our health. He gave so much of his personal time volunteering his expertise and his efforts to this community. Our Jackson County, as well as our surrounding counties, are better because of the work and dedication Greg unselfishly gave to all of us....while most of the time no one knew it was him behind the scenes. Greg Fields was and is my friend for life. We had many, many, many good times together which always included time for laughter. Although I have tears in my eyes...I can proudly say this was a great man that I will always remember. To Sally and the Fields family.... our family sends our love and blessings! May God bless Greg Fields!"
Fields, along with fellow CIC Board members Stockmeister, Tom Evans, Harold Howe and Dan Morrow, never received a lot of notoriety, but were key players in past years in setting the table to bring numerous jobs to Jackson.
The Jeno's Plant on East Broadway Street is an excellent example. The CIC Board jumped in to play an important middleman's role after RJR Foods/Nabisco closed the frozen-food plant. The CIC purchased the plant, then sold it to Jeno Paulucci, who then established a Jeno's Plant at that location. The successor plant, Bellisio Foods, is now Jackson's largest employer. The CIC also owned the land and building on East Main Street where the Goodyear Plant located in the mid-1960s and successor tenants operated until 2007. The original plant building has been demolished, but there are hopes that a new plant will locate there in the future.
"Greg was always working to try to bring jobs to Jackson," Evans recalled. "Greg didn't really like to be out in front, but he was very involved behind the scenes."
Evans also appreciated Fields' honesty and directness in his personal relations and his get-it-done attitude when work was to be done and important decisions to be made.
"Greg and I always had a good relationship," Evans reflected. "He was outspoken and would tell you what he thought -- and I liked that. We both were able to speak our minds on anything and still be friends. He was a good citizen and a good businessman. He was able to put the time, effort and money into his projects. His successes benefited him, but they also benefited the community."
In his personal life, Fields was the center of a loving family life with his wife of 49 years and high school sweetheart, Sally; their three daughters, Kyle, Kristin and Shelley; and their 10 grandchildren.
Oldest daughter Kyle Exline eloquently put into words what her father meant to her and her sisters in a Facebook post she agreed to share with The Telegram.
"This man was the single greatest influence on my life," Kyle posted. "He taught me what I know about business, hard work, and passion. He had more confidence in me than I ever had in myself, and genuinely believed that I could do anything. He also loved me and his family fiercely, and showed it every day. He was always up for traveling to one of the kids' soccer matches, going to lunch or just listening to my triumphs or challenges at my job.
"In our family we hug each other, kiss each other, and say I love you to each other, EVERY SINGLE TIME we are together. Not because we feel obligated, but because we mean it. My dad raised a family of strong women filled with love, and that legacy will carry on for generations through me, my sisters, his sons (in-law), and his beautiful grandchildren. We love you, dad."
Fields was also a lover of life, who was not afraid to try and experience new things and pursue with zest the things he enjoyed, such as his affinity for sports cars (especially Corvettes) and flying his own helicopter.
Calling hours will be today (Wednesday) from 2-8 p.m. at the Mayhew-Brown Funeral Home in Jackson. The funeral is set for Thursday at 1 p.m. at the funeral home with Pastor Russ Strange officiating. Burial will follow at Fairmount Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Greg's honor to the University of Rio Grande Alumni Association, Attention: Institutional Advancement, P.O. Box 500, Rio Grande, Ohio 45674 or make an online contribution at www.rio.edu/donate. Or we encourage you to donate in his honor to The Markay Cultural Arts Center, c/o Southern Hills Arts Council, P.O. Box 149, Jackson, Ohio 45640.
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Posted: Tuesday, March 13, 2018
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Thank You for this beautifully composed tribute to Greg. So much of what he did was not in public view yet his efforts moved this area forward in significant ways.