The Missouri House will honor a primary backer of the Katy Trail who also helped lead Edward Jones to become a Fortune 500 company. Edward “Ted” Jones will be inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians in a ceremony tomorrow morning.
Jones is credited with starting the branch office model that made the investment company founded by his father such a success, according to Edward Jones CEO Norman Eaker.
“Ted had a love of Missouri and a love of farms and had a love of the business, but he saw the business very different than his father. Ted saw the business as one that should service retail investors and specifically retail investors not located in major metropolitan areas but in small communities,” said Eaker. “In 1957, Ted opened our first branch office in Mexico, Missouri. Ted wanted to serve people in rural communities – thought they were underserved – with quality financial advice. It was a brilliant idea and today we have over 14,000 offices throughout the United States and Canada.”
Jones also pushed for the creation of the Katy Trail, which stretches nearly 240 miles along the former Missouri-Kansas-Texas rail line’s route.
Eaker calls that one of Jones’ great, lasting contributions to the state of Missouri, but he says it took a fight with Missouri landowners to see it through.
“He had to fight with the Missouri landowners, and Ted considered himself a farmer,” said Eaker. “When the Katy trail was abandoned by the railroads, Ted took advantage of the national Rails to Trails Act to sponsor Missouri acquiring that land from the railroad and instead of it going back to the farmers, Ted put up $2.5-million to complete the Katy trail and now it’s the longest bike trail in the United States.”
Eaker said the trail has benefitted Missouri ever since.
“I believe they have over 400,000 riders on the Katy Trail every single year, and it was a contribution not only to those that enjoy the trail … but there are communities all along the trail that now have small businesses designed to serve those 400,000 tourists,” said Eaker.
Eaker says Jones was always looking for ways to serve others, and that included maintaining Edward Jones as a partnership.
“When his father wanted to have the firm owned by Ted and his sisters, Ted wanted to make sure that the firm was owned by the workers at Edward Jones, and today we’re the largest remaining partnership on Wall Street, we believe,” said Eaker.
He believes Jones would be pleased and humble about being inducted into the Hall of Famous Missourians.
“He would probably feel totally unworthy but incredibly pleased to be included among the Famous Missourians,” said Eaker.
The Hall of Famous Missourians is found between the House and Senate chambers on the third floor of the Missouri Capitol. Its inductees are honored with bronze busts and are generally chosen by the Speaker of the House. Other inductees include Mark Twain, Harry Truman, Walt Disney and George Washington Carver.
Jones is the first inductee chosen by House Speaker Todd Richardson. Jones’ bust has been paid for by Edward Jones.