Ralph Jones came to Wooster in 1947 equipped with little more than a glasscutter, a pair of overalls and a desire to succeed. Raised in the “Old Brooklyn” area of Cleveland, Ralph learned the value of hard work during the depression by delivering 200 daily newspapers each morning before going to school. Following his graduation from James Rhodes High School in 1935, he started work as a glazier following the advice of his uncle who was in the trade.
Ralph served in the United States Army, 6th Infantry Division during WWII and was involved in the Pacific Theater on the Islands of New Guinea and the Philippines. After his tour of duty was completed in 1945, he married Grace Blosser of Jefferson City, Missouri and returned to Cleveland to resume his trade as a glazier.
In 1947, Ralph and Grace identified Wooster as an ideal community to start a glass company. At first Ralph stayed in the American Hotel on East Liberty Street for $3.00 per week while Grace continued to reside and work in Cleveland. After two years, Ralph was able to have Grace join him and they worked together to build Wooster Glass Company. Today the company has grown to 30 employees with offices in Wooster and Medina. In 2002, Wooster Glass Company was recognized by the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce as Business of the Year.
Ralph continued to work every day up until the end. He died Nov. 5, 2010. He was 94. Behind his desk hung a picture of the first Wooster Glass building and a young Ralph Jones loading glass on his first truck. “Whenever I would think I was getting too big for my britches, or whenever I got discouraged, I would turn my chair around and look at that picture. It gives me a lot of pride when I see what Grace and I have accomplished since we moved to Wooster in 1947,” he once said. After several years of ill health, Grace passed away in 1997.
Ralph and Grace’s adopted hometown has been the beneficiary of their personal involvement and success. Ralph had been an active player in Wooster’s civic scene for decades. He was a board member and president of the Wooster Area Chamber of Commerce, a director of the YMCA, a member of the Executive Committee for the National Glass Dealers’ Association and was involved in the fundraising efforts of numerous other organizations and community projects. Ralph was a member of Central Christian Church, Wooster Elks Lodge, Masonic Lodge, Al Koran Shrine, and a number of other fraternal organizations. Perhaps Ralph’s greatest passion for community was his long-time sponsorship and support of youth and adult athletic teams throughout the county, especially Wooster Youth Baseball. He was also involved in the establishment of a number of local businesses, including Clear Picture, Inc.
Ralph lived by the philosophy that when you live in a community and that community has been good to you, you need to give back to that community. And, he did. The legacy of giving back to the community demonstrated by Ralph and Grace Jones now continues through their daughter and son-in-law, Kathy and Greg Long. Kathy serves as president of Wooster Glass.