John Jones
Home Up

John Jones,  1942-2007
Written by Rick Archer July 2007

On Tuesday, July 3rd, John Jones passed away after a lengthy and very unsettling battle with cancer.

John was a very brave man. I could not help but stand in awe of his stoic courage throughout his medical ordeal. But let's put that aside for now.

John will be remembered for many years here at SSQQ as the man who helped Sharon (Crawford) Shaw create the finest Western Waltz class our city has ever seen. 

I don’t teach on Wednesdays at the moment, but by chance a few weeks ago I had a reason to stop by the studio at 6:30 pm. I was stunned to see John there that night as always to help Sharon Shaw with her Western Waltz class. He wasn’t very steady on his feet and he looked to be in some pain, but that wasn’t going to stop John from being there.

John knew full well he didn’t have many days left, so believe me when I say I am deeply honored that he chose to share some of those precious moments with all of us at the studio while he still could.

Sure enough, John was determined to contribute on a Wednesday Night just like he had for the past fifteen years or so in some way or another.

Because John was a quiet man and perhaps a little gruff, I did not know him very well. John's public persona was something of a Grumpy Gus.  Since I was a little intimidated by John, I didn’t often walk up to him to have an idle chat with him as often as I would others who were more outgoing.

Other people at the studio, Linda Cook for example, weren't fooled at all. Linda's fondest memory was having John come up to her every Wednesday Night before class to check to see what books she was bringing to the studio.  Linda soon learned to always bring her new books on Wednesdays so John could go through and pick the ones his mom would like to read.  While sifting through the books, John would ask Linda what she was teaching that night, ask if she needed any help going over the patterns, and see if she needed any music.

Linda's story confirmed what all of us suspected - John may have looked a little grumpy at times, but his many kind actions always gave him away.

Sharon related a story about the time she had to have an outpatient procedure done. She had to be at the hospital at 6:00 a.m. They would not let her drive because she was going to be sedated.  Sharon decided to take a cab to the hospital and take John up on his offer to pick her up after the procedure.

On the morning of her procedure, John knocked on her door at 5:15 am to take her to the hospital.  He told Sharon he couldn't sleep so he decided to drive on over.  Not only did he John take her and pick her up, he also got her prescriptions filled.  Nor would he leave the house until he made sure that Sharon had a telephone and water before he left.  Sharon added that she knew very few people who would go so much out of their way.

At a recent reception organized by Mary to allow all of us to pay tribute to John, one person after another came up to me to share stories just like Sharon's.  Each person would tell me how John fixed this for them or did that for them.  John helped many people in many ways whenever he could.  John was widely admired for his generosity.

At the same time, John had an odd way of frustrating people - John refused to ever let anyone return a favor.

Here is a perfect example.  At the reception, I saw an old beat-up, yellow check made out to John for $23.  Naturally I was curious, so I asked. The check had been written to John by one of his best friends way back in 1983.  John and his best friend had gone somewhere with the agreement that they would split the costs.  John paid for everything, then refused to ever cash his buddy's check when they got home. 

At the time, his friend was mad at John for keeping him in his debt over 23 lousy bucks!  Now, twenty four years later, the friend was still cussing about it... and laughing too.

All he could say was, 'That's John, the old grouch!'. 

Quick to frown, slow to smile, cantankerous, moody, quiet, inscrutable... and kind.

Underneath that stern guise beat the heart of a very decent man.

The Master at work. John had great skill, but was extremely reluctant to show off.  In fact, John's business partner Cynthia told me she had never seen him dance despite many occasions like weddings where he could have easily shown his skills.  Thus we have almost no pictures of John actually dancing! Above are some of the few exceptions.

These pictures are are from John's step-daughter’s wedding in 2003. Here JJ is waltzing with Jacqueline (John’s step-daughter). John gave her away when she got married in 2003.  John and Sharon worked with Jac and her husband Jeff on a crash waltz lesson in prep for dancing at the reception.


In case you did not know this, John had a lifelong love of the Western Waltz.

Back in the mid-Nineties, John spent the countless evenings he spent in back rooms at the studio practicing his Waltz with his best friend (and former wife) Mary Jones.  

Every Wednesday night around 9 pm, John would get together with Mary and dance the night away just for the sheer joy of mastering this beautiful dance further.

John ordered every videotape ever made on the subject and did his level best to add each new move (some of which were unbelievably complicated) to his collection of patterns.

I was witness to those many evenings.  John had become a phenomenal dancer. Finally I couldn't take it any more.  One night in 1999, I suggested that John consider sharing his vast knowledge of patterns. 

I could see that John took my suggestion seriously. An opportunity to contribute was something John could not pass up.  John decided he would enjoy sharing his knowledge with as many people as he possibly could.

But there was one problem. Teaching wasn't his strength. John told me he was too quiet.  But he just happened to know someone who was a born teacher.  So John walked down the room to find Sharon and ask her if she was game. Sharon smiled. Absolutely! 

That is the story of how John collaborated with his close friend Sharon (Crawford) Shaw to put together the finest Western Waltz program this city has ever seen.

For practically the entire Millennium Year 2000, John and Sharon would meet on Wednesdays at 6 pm or so and practice the patterns they would teach that night.

Due to the diligence which is the basic nature of both John and Sharon, their five-month Western Waltz program here at the studio was incredibly well received.

I will never forget the incredible vision of 100 people dancing the Western Waltz all at once in Room One on Wednesday Nights.

In addition I will never forget all the years that John went out of his way to share CDs of his Western Waltz music to one generation of SSQQ Western Waltz student after another because he loved to contribute. John collected the music, organized the compilation, and burned hundreds of CDs to give to Western Waltz students at SSQQ free of charge.

I would guess a thousand different people have a John Jones Western Waltz CD to remember him by.

I smile as I remind all of you that we owe John a huge ‘thank you’ for inspiring us to become better Waltzers!

I hope I never dance a Western Waltz again without first saying a quiet mental tribute in his honor.

It is my memory of John Jones that I respected him a great deal. John was a good man.

We will all miss him very much.

Rest in Peace, John Jones.   


Written by R
ick Archer

The irony, of course, is that anyone who first saw John dance would never guess that he would someday be known for his perfection in a dance as intricate as Waltz. He was pretty stiff there at the start.  Dancing did not come naturally.

John began taking classes here at SSQQ in 1994.  He had recently gone through a sad but amicable divorce from his wife of 17 years, Mary Jones. 

John worked for an insurance agency at the time.  One of his co-workers was Linda Rooks.  Linda just happened to also teach at SSQQ (in fact, Linda was one the finest natural dance teachers SSQQ has ever been graced with).

Linda said he needed to get it going again.  John wasn't used to getting advice from anyone, but then you don't know Linda.  Eventually Linda won him over.  John decided to give Swing Dancing a try here at the studio.

From what I have pieced together, John was not an instant success on the dance floor.  A reserved man, John was very uncomfortable doing anything he was not excellent at. He was a perfectionist who didn't appreciate looking clumsy under any circumstances.  John fell into the trap of never practicing his Swing Dancing because he didn't want to be seen looking awkward. As a result, he never became any good at Swing Dancing because he never practiced.

Okay, everyone who has ever made that same dumb mistake raise your hand.  By the way, I raised my hand too.

Despite his lack of instant success or maybe because he wasn't an instant success, John became more interested in learning to dance.  Whatever the reason, John signed up for more classes. 

Pretty soon John discovered Western Dancing and found it more to his liking.  A country boy, John grew up near Caldwell, a town about 20 miles west of Bryan.  My guess is John was more at home with the Western music.  John began to practice and discovered this dancing stuff wasn't so hard after all once you actually practice a little.

John talked Mary, his ex-wife of a few months, into joining him.  Like John, Mary Jones is a quiet, dignified, very private woman. Unlike John, she smiles easily, but I wouldn't characterize Mary necessarily as 'outgoing'. She is reserved.

John and Mary stayed very close after their divorce, a fact that I admired greatly for both individuals. In fact, for seven years after they stopped being married, they still spent a great deal of time together.

As I observed, John was always happy at the studio when Mary was around.  He even smiled once in a while. Imagine that.

Together they learned Twostep, Polka, and the Western Swing.  At some point John discovered the Western Waltz. 

The Waltz became the dance that John took his fancy to.  John loved to practice his Waltz.  Mary enjoyed the Waltz too, but not to the same extent. John was determined to master every possible nuance of this graceful dance. 

I believe the fact that Waltz is fluid and graceful is what that attracted John in the first place.  Often described as the Romantic Western dance, Waltz is very elegant.  John would never be described as a "Boogie Dancer", but one word always attributed to his dance style was "smooth".

In addition, if ever there was a single word to describe Mary, 'Elegant' would be a good one. Tall, beautiful, and graceful, Mary appeared to float as she danced in John's arms. 

There was a period of several years - 1995 through 1997 - when every Wednesday night John and Mary would go down to Room 3 after class, put on a Waltz CD and begin to dance.  Round and round the floor went John and Mary for an hour, sometimes longer.  It became a Wednesday Night tradition for them.

Many nights I would see them on the way to the drink room, then stop. Invariably I would stop and watch in awe as the two of them displayed their dance magic together.

Both John and Mary were very humble about their improvement, but in truth their constant practice was turning them into the Western Waltz version of Fred and Ginger. 

Mary was kind enough to share with me some of her thoughts about those days and nights of the eternal Waltz.  Here is what Mary had to say.

Yes, I have fond memories of our waltzing, practicing and fine tuning those years at SSQQ.

John, I think, would have loved to move toward competing in waltz, but I was not really wanting that type of spotlight.

So we just polished our “act” as best we could for our own pleasure at the studio, The Longhorn, Wild West or wherever we danced.  We took various group and private lessons to better enjoy our own dancing.

And yes I remember how we spent countless hours in the practice room at SSQQ attempting to perfect those un-perfectible moves and routines.

I agree that John’s waltzing served to inspire many at SSQQ to pursue the excellence in waltz.

Of course our friend Sharon will always be the Queen Bee of Waltz. 

Sharon perfected every move and showed endless patience with all of us in class after class as many of us repeated all of them time and time again.


True to his nature, John had explicitly told his family no service, no funeral, etc, but his mother apparently found a loophole.  John had failed to forbid them to have a party in his name.

Upon his death, John's lovely mother Marjorie asked Mary to organize a party of sorts to give us all a chance to share some memories.  After all, Mary knew who John's Houston friends were better than anyone. So that's exactly what Mary and Marjorie did - they threw a party for John on Saturday, July 7.

Although there were tears shed, of course, it turned out to be a great party.  There were a lot of smiles and a lot of warmth shared that day.  Mary deserves a lot of credit for making what could have been a deeply maudlin moment into an enjoyable party instead.

If John was watching from some vantage point how the many the well-wishers offered up countless compliments, testimonies and good-natured digs, I am certain he would have objected a little.  He couldn't stand people making a fuss over him. 

But then again somehow I don't think John would have minded too much.  Mary deserves credit for throwing a great party.



As I mentioned earlier, Linda Rooks... now Linda Decker... was the close friend who accomplished the miracle of getting John to sign up for a dance class.

I would like to share a little about Linda before moving back to John.

Linda was one of the finest instructors this studio has ever had.  She started teaching in 1990 and continued through to 1998. 

Linda met her future husband Rad Decker at SSQQ.  From the moment I saw them together, I thought they fit like a glove.

Intelligent, gracious, poised were words that immediately come to mind about Linda.  However, Linda had one Achilles heel - she was terrified of cameras.  I have never in my life seen anyone contort their face into a more crooked smile than Linda when it came time to say 'cheese'.  That explains while this ridiculous 1998 Halloween picture of Linda and Rad is so special. It is the only picture out of dozens I took over the years where Linda appears to be smiling.

Here is what Linda Decker asked Mary to share with the group at John's Party.

Rad and I are sitting in our room at the Residence Inn in Marlborough, MA, reminiscing about John.

We remember with fondness his mischievous smirk and the twinkle in his eyes as he tried - always successfully - to rile Rad. John just loved agitating Rad and we loved John - not in spite of - but because he loved to tease.

There are so many fond memories. We remember his generosity - he was always there for us if we needed help, and we were always needing something.  He might not have been comfortable sitting and holding our hands as we cried, but he could fix a meal, hang a swing in a tree, replace windows, share his double-dipped French fries, and sit and drink a beer or two on the back porch.

And we remember his tenderness with his cats - he spoke gruffly to them (at least in front of us), but not hatefully. He spent hours teaching them to fetch old socks and clothespins. He loved them fiercely even if he never said the words.

I imagine he loved a lot of us fiercely, without ever saying it in words.

We wish that we could be with you today to share the stories - to pay tribute to our friend - to celebrate the life of this often exasperating man whom we loved fiercely. We are there in spirit and in love. We will never forget him.

Linda Decker
July 7, 2007



No story about John Jones that I write could be complete without further reflection on the Western Waltz class that he and Sharon put together.  

It is the SSQQ Western Waltz class that will ensure that John's memory will linger for a long time throughout Houston Western Dance Circles. 

During the 1990s, Sharon became a Competition Western Dancer. Back then, Sharon and her dance partner Patrick Steerman practiced the Western Waltz almost as often as John and Mary did. 

It is no accident that John and Sharon became fast friends.  They had so much in common! 

Both grew up in small country towns here in Texas and eventually migrated to Houston. Both had a deep love of Western dancing. 

And they were both busy mastering the Western Waltz at the exact same time and place back in 1994-1995.

Besides their mutual love of dance, as long as I have known John and Sharon, they operated practically as brother and sister.  Both John and Sharon are perfectionists. They are both modest and humble, yet deeply gifted people.  Both John and Sharon absolutely thrive on being of service to other people.

They are both known for integrity and a deep sense of responsibility. Sharon and John are the kind of people on which civilization depends - they are rock solid human beings whose leadership and competence are legendary.  People feel safe trusting them with anything.  Anything!!

Like Linda Decker in a previous story, recently the former Miss Sharon Crawford has found great happiness in her 2005 marriage to her handsome husband Bill Shaw.

Not surprisingly, the story of their courtship intertwines through Sharon's Western Waltz class. 

Bill and Sharon had known of each other from afar all the way back to the mid-Nineties.

In fact, I ran across pictures from a 1995 SSQQ party where both Sharon, Bill and their significant others were dancing right along beside each other.

Curiously though, Bill and Sharon made their initial connection in 2003 via an online dating service. It took email for Bill to finally get up the courage to say hi. 

Bill has told me several times he thought Sharon was the most intimidating woman he ever had to approach.  All Bill could think of was this image of the beautiful dance goddess in her lovely competition dance gown.

Bill started taking Sharon's Western Waltz class in 2003.  Bill had nursed a crush on Sharon for a long time and I believe he was so impressed by her Waltz class that he just assumed she was out of his league.  Bright, pretty, slender, poised, classy and admired by so many men, Bill just couldn't get up the nerve to approach her!

Of course anyone who knows Sharon realizes she is the most approachable human being on earth, but I understood EXACTLY what Bill meant.  When you see Sharon dance... be it the Waltz, the Whip, or the Western Swing, you see one of the finest natural dancers in Houston put on quite a show.

So for quite some time in Bill's world it was look, but don't touch.  Finally one night Bill ran into Sharon at the opera. They both were on dates, so he couldn't do much to take advantage of their chance meeting.  But he realized how much he wanted to talk to her! 

So when Bill noticed Sharon's name pop up on the dating service, the opportunity to finally bridge the gap was too good to pass up.  One click of the mouse was all it took to light the fire.  Two years later Bill and Sharon were married.

I realize I got a bit side tracked, but my reason for sharing this story is simple - Sharon spent twenty years patiently waiting for the right man.  Isn't it nice to see Sharon's Waltz class pay a few dividends?



If you look carefully at the picture of Sharon and her former dance partner Patrick Steerman, you will notice '1994' in the background. 

1994 was also the year that John Jones embarked on his dance project.  As you can gather, Sharon's path to excellence and John's path to excellence ran parallel.

I have written on many an occasion of my own
201 Nights of Whip Dancing in a row. It was my way of regaining sanity.

Coming off his divorce, I will go out on a limb and guess that John's Waltz project had to be just as important to him as my own journey was to me. 
Dance became a huge part of his life and gave him a new sense of self and enjoyment, part of which Mary was able to share and enjoy with him.

This is one reason why I have always identified with John's accomplishment - he was just as obsessed with dancing as a way to come to grips with who he was as I had been back in 1986.  Dancing has a way of curing a broken heart. 

Whatever his motivations, through his countless hours of practice, John transformed himself into one of the finest Waltz dancers in all of Houston.

Since we are on the subject, there really is no such thing as 'Western Waltz'.  There is simply 'Waltz'.  All Waltz moves can be adapted to be danced in a limited area or travel in a circle around the floor.

Western Waltz is limited to the Waltz patterns that travel. Western Waltz is danced Waltz music recorded by Western singers.  Therefore 'Western Waltz' can be defined as Waltz patterns that travel combined with Western Waltz music.  But in truth, the same patterns work beautifully to any Waltz music available.

That said, people prefer to dance to music they are comfortable with.  Since Houstonians have always had a love affair with Western music, Western Waltz caught on at SSQQ in a big way before Ballroom Waltz caught on seven years later in 2007.  Had it not been for 'Dancing with the Stars', I am not sure Houstonians would ever have discovered that Waltz has a life beyond George Strait.  

When Sharon and John taught their first extended Western Waltz class back in April of 2000, they had over 70 people sign up for Beginning Western Waltz.

Sharon and John were stunned.  No one expected a class of that size.  I explained to John at the time that people had been watching him dance the Waltz for five years.   Whenever Mary wasn't available, John would ask Sharon to dance with him at Practice Night.  Once they got started, many people either stopped dancing to watch.  Watching John and Sharon dance at Practice Night on Wednesdays was the highlight of the evening.  Talk about advertisement!  Looking back, no wonder the class was so big.

Word spread.  Due to the high energy of the Beginner class, naturally we scheduled a follow-up Intermediate class in May. Normally you have fewer people for Intermediate.  However there was no drop-off!  Not only did the same 70 people stick around, the class grew a little bit as experienced Waltz dancers joined in progress to share the fun.

Soon the students started begging for more levels. Sharon and John added an Advanced level in June. Then came Super-Advanced in July.  Sharon and John stopped at four levels in 2000, but when the same thing happened the following year, they found a way to add a fifth month of Western Waltz in 2001.

What made their class exceptionally fun was that many of the dancers stay after class to practice. If you go to Wild West, you might get one Waltz an hour.  And there might be a limited supply of people to dance with.

Here at SSQQ I dedicated Room 4 strictly for Waltz music.  Now there was a steady supply of partners and a steady stream of Waltz music.  The joint was jumping!  It wasn't unusual on a Wednesday night to go down to Room 4 and see two dozen couples swirling and twirling across the floor!  The entire room was wall to wall with beautiful Waltz couples!

Practice Night became just as exciting as the class itself. This led to three important developments. 

First, as you might guess, all that practice paid off.  Sharon and John's students started to become accomplished Waltz dancers in their own right.  In fact, these people were so impressed by the skill they developed, many of them came back each year to review the class just so they could get even better! 

Second, all the students who were just beginning to learn Twostep and Polka would wander down there during Practice Night to watch.  Imagine how impressed they were!   So when the next round of Western Waltz started up the following year, Sharon and John's class invariably filled up quickly with the next generation of SSQQ Waltz dancers.

In fact, this class got so full that on several occasions we literally had to CLOSE this course due to over-crowding. I actually had to post monitors at the doors to prevent people from sneaking in. Why?  Because we caught people signing up for another course as a ploy, then move over to Room One when no one was looking.  Good grief.


As the Western Waltz class began its eighth year in 2007, the numbers remain just as amazing today as they have been for nearly a decade.  Beginning Western Waltz had 60, Intermediate had 66, and Advanced had 60 students.  This class has lost none of its popularity.

Third, many SSQQ Romances flourished in Sharon and John's class.  Sharon wasn't the only one who caught a man, believe me! Waltz is not called the "Romantic Western Dance" by accident. I would estimate at least a dozen marriages and many romances developed as the result of the Western Waltz class. 

The music is very pretty and all those turns make women a little dizzy.  Women would use every smile and charm to work their way into the arms of a good male lead.  And if he was cute, they weren't above using their elbows on their sisters.

Along the way, John did something very nice.  He started making CD copies of his collection of Western Waltz music.  Although I am sure he broke dozens of copyright laws in the process, he didn't do it for personal gain. John never charged a dime.  He knew good Western Waltz music wasn't easy to come by, so this was a small favor in his mind that he could share with all of his students.  Small favor to him, but in reality John was copying and handing out several hundred free CDs a month to all comers!

A John Jones Western Waltz CD was a hot ticket, believe me.

As it stands today, many of the finest Waltz dancers throughout Houston claim they owe their skill to Sharon and John's Western Waltz class.  Thank goodness that Sharon intends to carry the torch for a while longer.  Sharon threatened to retire in 2007 but had so much fun in 2006 that she changed her mind. 

Although our focus is about John, Sharon's own story is intertwined.  Teaching Western Waltz had been a labor of love for her just as much as it has been for John. 

"John and I have been friends since the early 90s.  He is really the big brother I never had. I can't tell you how many times he helped me out in one way or another. 

Like many people, I feel I never got to pay him back for all of his kindnesses. He would hardly ever let me do anything for him.

John would never take credit for the success of our classes, but the truth is it would have been difficult for me to teach them without him.  John was much more than a volunteer in my class.  John was a good friend who I will miss terribly."

Sharon mentioned to me that John's favorite Waltz was Old Friend by Scooter Lee.  Sharon asked me to include it because the song speaks for itself. 

You were always there whenever I called
There was no need to believe you wouldn’t be there if I should fall
Through all our ups and downs you were always around,
you and me we’ve been through it all
With all the laughter and tears we’ve lasted for years
Old Friend I’m glad you’re around

Cause my old friend lives deep in my heart
You have no ending can’t remember the start
Old friend who could always make me smile
It’s no wonder I love you, Old Friend

I hope in reading my story about the Western Waltz class that John and Sharon created, you have come to understand why their class is such a special event.

John was the technician who came up with all the intricate patterns.

Sharon was the master instructor who somehow was able to explain difficult Waltz moves in such a plain and simple manner that everyone got it.

And what a team they made!  Each week the students watched as their instructors demonstrated the moves so beautifully that everyone in the room was inspired to someday be as good as John and Sharon.  And that is John's legacy to all of us.



(Rick Archer's Note: Robert originally began classes at SSQQ in 1992.  He credits learning to dance with changing his personality and his ability to deal with others more effectively.  Saying Dance was one of the best things he ever did for himself, Robert says he actually began to open up and become more outgoing in the process.  Robert has taken the Western Waltz series from John and Sharon on many an occasion.)

When John first came out to the Longhorn I had all ready been dancing for almost two years.  Typically, my friend Duana Jones (not related) and I went to either the Longhorn or the Post Oak Ranch.  However, I do not ever remember seeing John at the Post Oak Ranch. 

At first John sat and mostly danced with his wife Mary, but gradually he moved on to other dancers.  He always sat in a group with about 20 of us at the Longhorn.  He never drank too much, just danced.

I know John had a reputation for being a bit gruff, but I always thought that was all just a front.  There was a lot of kidding between us although I did most of the talking.  I would ask him questions like, “Did you bump anybody off today?” or “Has Mary attacked you with a meat cleaver lately?” 

John would usually answer “Nope” or in some monosyllables a bit like Gary Cooper in High Noon.  

It was kind of hard for me to get him to talk about much of anything except dancing.  But then later on occurred to me that maybe he just didn’t know how to deal with me or just couldn't bring himself to take me seriously.

His specialty really was Waltz.  And he was much better at it that I ever have been.  I can remember being in 2 Super Advanced Waltz classes at SSQQ in which he assisted Sharon, and she seemed really glad to have him helping.   Over the past 15 years I have seen a lot dancers come on go, but John was about as good as I’ve seen at the Western Waltz. AND HE WAS SMOOTH.

He also liked Night Club Two Step.  He got pretty good at that.  One night after he was assisting in Night Club Two Step he gave everyone in the class CD”s of songs suitable for that type of dance.  I guess he had made them himself.  I still have my copy.
About a year before he died I began to notice that John had deteriorated somewhat.  He seemed to be a little slower and tired more easily.  I assumed this might be due to the medication, but I always thought that he would shake it off and come right back. 

I asked him several times if there was anything I could do to help, but he just kind of shrugged it off. Then for a period of many months I didn’t see him at all and suddenly one of the other dancers told me that he was gone.

I extend my heartfelt condolences to all of the family and friends of this fine, decent man.

Robert Fischer
Saturday, August 11, 2007


(As of July 2007, Hoover assists Jill Banta with her Sunday Night Ballroom class)

I met John in the Western Waltz class about 3 years ago. I had talked with him a few times and said hello at Wild West.  I was always happy to see John at Wild West.  When he danced, I stepped aside just to watch.  Everybody needs a dance hero for inspiration and John was my mine. Z

was smooth in all of the Western dances and it showed in his partners' smiles.

One night in Room 1 before Western Waltz class, he and I were making small talk next to the stereo

said to him, "John, when I grow up, I want to be a good dancer just like you. I want to help out in a class and wear black."

John chuckled and replied to the effect I should try to be like someone who was really good, not him.

Class started and Sharon called John to the middle of the room to demo.  As always, the two of them were the picture of perfection.  Brief though it was, that tidbit of conversation stuck with me.

Last January 2007, Jill Banta and I were teaching the first night of Beginning Ballroom in Room 1. I was standing next to the CD player when Jill waved me over to start the class.  I was there to help her demo in Foxtrot, Rumba & Waltz.

As I stepped towards Jill, the memory of that conversation rushed back to me.

My thought was, "My God, I'm John. In this class, I'm just like John was to me!"

I had my black shirt on, I was assisting, and the beginners thought I was good.  Well, two out of three ain't all bad.  

I will never be as graceful on the floor as John was, but for a moment there I had an inkling of why John continued to show up on Wednesday nights.

I am grateful John was there to show me not only what a good dancer looks like, but how he should be willing to inspire others as well.

Rick Archer's Note

As we enter our 30th year, SSQQ is as successful today as it ever has been. Much of the glory comes to me because I run the show and I am the public face. I hope this story makes it readily apparent that SSQQ is not great just because Rick Archer is the owner. I do contribute, but as you can see I have lots of help.

SSQQ is a reflection of the people who serve... kind, decent, giving, caring.  Sharon and John get the spotlight, but there many instructors, assistants, and volunteers just like Sharon and John.  This story is a good example. It has been written with the help of Linda Decker, Mary Jones, Guy Hoover, Linda Cook and Sharon Shaw. I get to reap the lion's share of the credit because my name is on this story.  But in truth I could not have written this story without their help, now could I?  This studio is a team effort. 

SSQQ is a special place because people like John Jones and many more people just like him make incredible contributions all the time without any expectation of being praised in the process. In John's case, he created an incredible program here at the studio with very little fanfare. He was proud of what he and Sharon did, but didn't need or ask for headlines.  John did it because he liked to help people, not for fanfare.

In closing I would like to say I am deeply humbled that these people have trusted me to write John's final story.  I hope they have read this story thinking I have done justice to the memory of this fine man.  Most of all, I hope John likes it... although I am sure he will find at least something wrong with it.  ;-)

If you would like to contribute a note or a story, please send it to

2010 Note: I wrote an excellent story about John's contributions to world of Waltz.  Hot Stuff



BLOOPER REEL - Rick Archer

If you think writing epitaphs about people you care about is easy, you should try it sometime.  But I did manage to have a light moment.  Perhaps levity has no place in this story, so forgive me if I make a rookie mistake.  I am new at this and I can't resist sharing it with you.

Poor Sharon Shaw.  You have no idea how much I love Sharon.  Sharon has been a source of strength and joy to me for twenty years.  Like I said, Sharon is the kind of human being who makes you think humanity might actually make it to the next Millennium.  She is a delight and a credit to the human race.

In fact, I have always made note of the similarity in her name - Sharon - and her incredible willingness to "share".  Sharon is just such a sweet lady!

That said, like John Jones, I tend more towards the grouchy side which is one of the reasons I have identified with him so much in this story. And I am definitely a lot meaner than Sharon.  Maybe that's why I admire Sharon so much.  My role in this relationship has always been the rotten brother playing mean tricks.  I have consistently teased this poor woman as long as I have known her because Sharon is such a good sport. Not only that, over the years I have kept a record of all my evil deeds here on the web site. 

Now that Sharon is happily married, I don't tease her much anymore mostly because her husband is bigger than me.

But I have been nursing a grudge for a long time. Back in 1989, Sharon managed to play a wonderful Practical Joke at my 40th Birthday Party that was so well done she basically evened the score. I am not going to tell you what happened here, but you can read
the story if you wish

I will only say that at the end of the story I vowed to get even. It has been nearly 20 years since Sharon got me good.  Many times I have wondered if I would ever get my chance.

Now an opportunity to get back in the game has crossed my desk. You would think out of respect for John, I would pass it up... except that somehow I think John would appreciate it.  So here we go.


Without vanity, without curiosity, a woman would not be a woman. Much of her grace is in her frailty to be beautiful at all times."

For this story on Sharon's close friend John, Sharon as always has been unfailingly helpful to me.  Sharon has provided me all sorts of information and pictures to allow me to do justice to John's wonderful memory. A huge flurry of emails has passed back and forth as Sharon diligently tried to help.

And, as they say, no good deed goes unpunished.

I would like you to read this tale of three pictures.

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer
Sent: Wednesday, July 11, 2007 11:33 AM
To: Sharon Shaw
Subject: RE: John's photos

I am busy wrapping up the article on John, but I just realized I could use one more picture of you and John.

Right now the best I can do is a ski picture with your goggles on. :-)

The ski picture is currently the lead picture for my article about you. If you have something better laying around, please share.

Like I said, as I was writing this story, the ski picture was the only picture I had of Sharon and John. As you can see, John isn't smiling, but what's new?

And like I said, my first draft of the story had that ski picture located as the start of the "Sharon Crawford Shaw" section.  After I finished the first draft of this story, I asked Sharon to go to the Internet and proof read it.

Maybe I shouldn't have teased her about the goggles.  Or maybe it my smiley face that did it.

"If you have something better laying around, please share."

Sharon took my words to heart!  Surely she had something better??  But what?

In my opinion, Sharon over-reacted a bit. 

Sharon took one look at that ski picture and decided it had to go.

And it had to go NOW STAT PRONTO ASAP

She began to look around for a better picture!  Aha!  Found one.  Now there's a great picture!

Sharon immediately sent me the new picture with this message added on.

 -----Original Message-----
From: Sharon Shaw
Sent: Thursday, July 12, 2007 7:48 AM
To: Rick Archer

Rick - here is a photo of John and me together. At least it's not that goofy ski picture.

So let's take a look at the picture Sharon sent to replace the ski picture!


Whoa! I nearly bust a gut. 

Okay, so the ski picture wasn't perfect, but how on earth did she think this boat picture was going to be an improvement?  

What was Sharon thinking? 

Did she want us to be able to remember John's boat too?

So I thought about it.  Maybe Sharon wanted me to crop the boat out and do a CLOSEUP! 

Yeah, that must be it.

Okay, let's try a close-up.


Now that the picture is enlarged it becomes obvious why Sharon greatly preferred this picture over the ski picture. 

In the ski picture, Sharon was just standing there with a stupid grin and goggles. Boring.

But now you can see Sharon's graceful wave of the hand! And the boat is moving. It is an action photo!

And if you look carefully (use your imagination), you will see Sharon beaming!  I can't remember when I have seen her look happier than this fond moment shared with John.

Look again carefully and see if John is frowning.

Hmm.  Inconclusive evidence. 

But my guess is he was frowning.  What's new?

I immediately emailed Sharon back and told her my sides hurt from laughing so hard.  After the tension of writing John's story, I needed a good laugh.

It was another classic Sharon moment.

After I teased her, Sharon thought it over and decided to try a little harder.  The next day she sent me another picture.

This time Sharon sent me a picture of Bill, John, and Sharon. This one was pretty good.

But what about the boat picture?  Tough choice.

After much thought, I decided to use this picture for Sharon's story instead.  Basically I think Sharon is much prettier than that boat.

As you can see, John wasn't smiling, but what's new?

We don't care if John is smiling or not.  We love him anyway. As you know from the story, it is what is inside that counts. 

And by this measure - what is inside of a man - John Jones was a very good man indeed.  I hope wherever he is, John gets a smile out of this story.  Or at least maybe a happy frown. 

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