Former NCAFP President Dr. James Jones Honored for His Family Medicine Career at ECU Luncheon

Former NCAFP President Dr. James Jones Honored for His Family Medicine Career at ECU Luncheon

February 2, 2023

Former NCAFP President Dr. James Jones Honored for His Family Medicine Career at ECU Luncheon

by Kevin LaTorre

Communications and Membership Manager

On Jan. 27, 2023, former NCAFP President Dr. James “Jim” Jones received the honor of a professorship in his name at the East Carolina University (ECU) Brody School of Medicine. In addition, the chair’s suite at the Family Medicine Center at ECU was officially named in his honor.  The celebratory luncheon in Dr. Jones’s honor included NCAFP leadership, AAFP leadership, his colleagues, and his loved ones. ECU Chancellor Philip Rogers joined UNC – Pembroke Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings to present the award to Dr. Jones (as pictured above).

Dr. Jones was named the founding chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Brody Medical School in 1976, after developing the department for the then-new medical school since 1974. He then served as chair of the Family Medicine Department for 18 years. The luncheon and ceremony commemorated these years of service by announcing the “Dr. James G. Jones Distinguished Professorship” for his dedication and service to the Department of Family Medicine, along with the plaque for the “Dr. James G. Jones Chair’s Suite."

During his years at ECU, Dr. Jones also devoted himself to improving Family Medicine in North Carolina and at the national level.

His journey to practicing medicine and perfecting leadership began against early hardship. Dr. Jones was born in 1933 as a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and grew up in what he calls “a sad beginning”: his parents abandoned him and his siblings, who were raised instead by his grandparents on their farm in Pembroke, NC. But from a young age, Dr. Jones committed himself to bringing medical care to underserved communities, whom he would later call his own “mission field in eastern North Carolina.” This plan fueled his graduation from Bowman Gray School of Medicine (today, the Wake Forest School of Medicine) in 1958. He was the first Native American student to graduate Wake Forest as an undergrad and as a medical student, and his example inspired other Native American students to enroll and excel there.

He began practicing Family Medicine in Jacksonville, NC, in 1962 and joined the NCAFP as a member the following year. In time, his skill and leadership led Dr. Jones to become the NCAFP President-Elect in 1971 and then President in 1972.

Following his state-level leadership in Family Medicine, Dr. Jones soon achieved national influence to further the specialty. He joined the American Academy of Family Physician (AAFP) Board of Directors in 1984. He became the AAFP President in 1988, though his recognition and advocacy would continue through the 1990s: in 1995 Dr. Jones received the Thomas W. Johnson Award for Career Contributions to Family Medicine Education, and the following year he received the President’s Award. In 2020 Dr. Jones became a Life member at the NCAFP, a fitting reward for his decades of service to his patients, students, colleagues, and profession.

The Jan. 27 luncheon included congratulations from his fellow NCAFP members. Dr. Mott Blair called the award “an appropriate honor” for Dr. Jones and said, “I am glad to have him as a mentor all these many years!” And former NCAFP president, AAFP President and AAFP CEO Dr. Douglas Henley said, “Great honor for a great man! Thank you for all you have done for the people of eastern NC and all you have done for the specialty of Family Medicine!”

Greg Griggs, Executive Vice President of the NCAFP, attended the luncheon to honor Dr. Jones’s legacy and leadership. “The luncheon was great,” says Griggs, “and it was impressive to see two chancellors from separate universities honoring Dr. Jones. He was instrumental for the creation of the ECU Family Medicine Department, and he’s definitely the godfather of Family Medicine in North Carolina.”

The NCAFP staff and leadership congratulate Dr. Jones on his impactful career in North Carolina. He has helped define and defend our specialty in the state and nation, and we’re glad to count him as a member and leader in our association. 

About the NCAFP

The North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians, Inc. (NCAFP) is a nonprofit professional association headquartered in Raleigh which represents over 4,300 family physicians, family medicine residents, and medical students across the state. It is the largest medical specialty association in North Carolina and is a constituent chapter of the American Academy of Family Physicians, based in Leadwood, KS.