By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer
These were the images family and friends of Nathaniel Jones want to remember: A smiling toddler in overalls, a high-schooler in a tuxedo at a dance, an adult with arm around his mother, a father with his sons and him giving the peace sign.
For many, the videotape of the photographs that played at Jones' Saturday memorial service was a respite from the police video that showed him struggling with Cincinnati police, which has aired repeatedly on national news shows for nearly a week. The stress of the struggle, officials ruled, caused the 41-year-old Northside man's heart to stop.
More than 500 people laughed at some pictures in which Jones mugged for the camera, but as it ended almost everyone dabbed tears. Some were crying so hard that church officials or family members had to escort them outside.
"I know he was here with us," Tyriq Holley, Jones' 11-year-old son, said after the service.
Tyriq said he wants everyone know how great his dad was.
"He was nice, kind, patient, he never hollered at us," the boy said. "He'd help me with my problems."
Tyriq and his stepbrother, Nathaniel Jones Jr., stayed close to their grandmother, Bessie Jonesthrough the five-hour service.
Jones' body was cremated. The gold-colored urn sat on a table that also held photographs and a lit candle. Burial will be in the same plot as his mother, but had not been scheduled.
Mourners started lining up at 8 a.m. to attend the noon to 3 p.m visitation at Allen Temple Worship Center in Bond Hill . By noon, the line to get inside was 50 deep.
People greeted each other with hugs and pats on the back. Voices were subdued as they shared stories about how they knew Jones. Those who never knew him said they came to offer condolences to the family.
Some made the five-hour trip from Cleveland, where Jones briefly attended high school, lived for a short time and where his two children still live.
By the end of the day, more than 1,000 people visited, including Cincinnati Council members Sam Malone, Christopher Smitherman, David Pepper, Laketa Cole, Alicia Reece, Jim Tarbell and Pat DeWine.
Mayor Charlie Luken did not attend, saying it was in deference to the family. Councilmember David Crowley was out of town.
Two protesters stood outside in temperatures that hovered around the mid-30s, but remained peaceful. Minister Muhammad Abdul Ali and Kemuel Yisrael, of Clifton, carried signs that were critical of police. .
But mostly, those inside wanted to remember Jones the way he lived.
"He was so much fun," said Loretta Hatcher, 44, of Bond Hill
Hatcher and Jones had dated. She carried a picture of him at a friend's birthday party, kissing it at one point. "We're gonna miss you," she said, looking at it.
Earl Branch, Jones' cousin, read a poem written by another cousin, Reginald Burnett, during the service.
Shouts of approval came when he read the line: "It's easier to deal when something is lost, not taken."
But he urged peace and calm.
"Violence has never gotten us anywhere," said Branch, of Cleveland. "We can't fight fire with fire, you fight it with water."
James Muhammad, representing Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, offered a message from Farrakhan, saying he spoke to the reverend by phone hours earlier.
"He, his wife, all of his children and all the leaders of the Nation of Islam share your pain and hurt," Muhammad said. "You're pain is not just your pain alone."
The Rev. Calvin Harper spoke for the Baptist Ministers Conference, saying that group also shared in the family's grief.
"His spirit will never die," said Stephanie Summerow Dumss, the mayor of Forest Park, whose family is close to the Jones family.
The Rev. Gregory Chandler Sr., of World Outreach Christian Church, where Jones sometimes attended services with his grandmother, called on the Jones family and those at the service to remember that life is a journey and preparation must be done for its end.
"Nathaniel lived, he enjoyed life," Chandler said. "Now he's not here, but God promised that if you die in Christ - because he is the light that doesn't end, he is the resurrection - you get a chance to live again. The second time is better than the first."
Jones, he said, is living that second life.
John Felder, who grew up next door to Jones in North Avondale, shared fond memories of "Big Skip," the nickname garnered from his love on peanut butter.
Felder, who now lives in Cleveland, talked about playing Hot Wheels with Jones and of the band the two started.
As a teen, Felder said, Jones loved to roller skate and put lights and beads on his shoes.
"I thought skating was about speed," Felder said. "Skip said, 'No John, you gotta slow it up. Get the move.'"
Felder said he used to be proud of Cincinnati, telling people he met that he was born in Chicago, was raised in Cincinnati and lived in a suburb of Cleveland.
Now, he said, he leaves out Cincinnati.
"Big Skip is gonna be fine," Felder said. "The more compelling question is, are we going to be fine?"
As she left the service, Bessie Jones stood silently, Tyriq and Nathaniel Jr. on each arm.
She bent down and opened a wicker basket. A white dove fly skyward. At least a dozen other doves, released from another basket, joined the bird.
The doves, the Rev. Chandler said, symbolize that Jones is "free from the cares and worries of life.
"He's in a place of peace."
NATHANIEL JONES CASE
Supervising firefighter in Jones case was a sub
Jones remembered as kind, peaceful
City has matured since '01
Chronology of Nathaniel Jones case
Stretch of I-270 closed for tests
Grant to clean site in Fairfax
Bill brings benefits to Tristate
IN THE TRISTATE
Transit meeting feeling gloomy
Suspect dies after Dayton officers struggle with him
Commission may recommend Franklin merger
Loveland considers play fees
Skaters, dancers compete in Ky.
Bronson: Mannequins' hands are in your pockets
Radel: Young family barely escaped Japanese
Good Things Happening
John W. Senger, veteran of WWII
Sex-offender priest found dead of blunt-force trauma
Patton sees growth as a goal met
Patton leaves N.Ky. legacy