Meet Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones and his guide dog Clarissa

Kevin Jones and his guide dog Clarissa

Thirty-one non-consecutive years working at The Lighthouse for the Blind, Inc. in Seattle, and Kevin Jones is not done! In fact, he retired after 28 years, but after eight months at home with nothing to do, the then 70-year-old, native Australian decided to come back for more.

Kevin was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia and went blind from two freak accidents. The first happened at age 16 while he and a buddy were rough-housing at work in a printer warehouse and he was poked in the eye. It was 17 years later while lying on the beach in Auckland, New Zealand where he was then living, unbeknownst to him at the time, a mosquito bit him in his good eye. His reflex was to rub his eye, but infection set in and after medication and a couple of surgeries, within a month he lost vision.

Once completely blind, his wife divorced him, unable to accept his blindness. Kevin went through some rehabilitation, received a guide dog, and eventually joined the American Taping club where he was introduced to Mary from Columbus, Ohio. The two taped back and forth for one year before she flew to meet Kevin, and they were married two weeks later, on October 16, 1982.

Kevin at a phenolics workstation in the Machine Shop

Kevin at a phenolics workstation in the Machine Shop

In February of 1984, Kevin and Mary had a son. Jason was born with Down syndrome and a hole in his heart. The couple moved to the Seattle area so that Jason would receive the best medical care. Sadly, Jason passed away at age five after open heart surgery.

Kevin commutes from Bremerton four days a week. His commute includes a ride to the ferry terminal by his step-daughter, arriving before 4:00 a.m. each morning, catching the 4:50 a.m. ferry for a leisurely one-hour-ride, walking three blocks (mostly up hill) to catch the #7 bus for a 20 minute ride, and then walking another couple blocks to work. In the afternoons his route is reversed, but includes an Access bus ride home from the ferry terminal, usually arriving to his front door between 6:00-6:30 p.m. These days he does this accompanied by his Guide Dog, Clarissa, a frisky, Yellow Lab from Guide Dogs for the Blind, where Kevin has received seven previous guides. Clarissa is his ninth partner. His first, Perry didn’t adapt well after the move from New Zealand.

Kevin has worked in production on Boeing airplane parts since he began at the Lighthouse in 1986. At the young age of 73 and with a sick wife at home that continues to require more and more care, Kevin doesn’t know how much longer he’ll work. But he’s grateful for the opportunities he’s had here all these years.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 26th, 2017 at 8:57 am and is filed under Employee Spotlight. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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