MOUNT VERNON — When the pandemic hit in 2020, people across the world began taking up new hobbies.
Mount Vernon resident Adam Thompson was no different.
"We made sourdough starters," he recalled with a laugh. "We got backyard chickens."
But he also got into pottery. He eventually went with his friend to a class at Pine Row Studio, located at 10 E. Gambier St. in downtown Mount Vernon.
He was hooked.
He was drawn to the craft, but he was also drawn to the people at Pine Row – particularly the owners, Bill Jones and Pamela Woodworth. The husband-and-wife duo welcomed Thompson in, and they grew closer over the years, developing a bond through the hands-on hobby.
Thompson recalled sitting in their Gambier backyard on a warm night last fall, after a Raku firing session, sharing drinks and conversation. He and Jones would do this from time to time, talking about music and the news and whatever came to mind.
Thompson remembered Jones' "mischievous" smile, first and foremost. But he also remembered his intellect, his warmth, and his character. He remembered his innate ability to retain and recall a life's worth of memories.
"It didn't ever seem like he told the same story twice," Thompson said.
Thompson was one of two dozen people to gather Friday night outside Pine Row Studio. They were Jones' friends, neighbors and downtown business partners.
They lit candles, held a moment of silence, and shared memories. They laughed, cried, and held each other close.
They tried to make sense of it all.
Jones died Thursday, one week after being involved in a pedestrian collision in downtown Mount Vernon. He was 75 years old.
"It's very sad what they're going through, and I can't believe it," Angie Merckling, co-owner of The Blessed Life on Ohio Avenue, told the group near the beginning of the ceremony.
"But it's this – our community pulling together in times like this – that just really means a lot."
The Mount Gilead Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol is still investigating the events that led up to Jones' death, Lieutenant C.L. Holloway said Monday.
Initial reports indicate Jones was crossing North Sandusky Street, at the intersection of West High Street, around 11:14 a.m. on Thursday, March 16.
He was headed west, crossing from the corner that contains Donato's Pizza to the corner that contains Kentucky Fried Chicken. Woodworth said in a Facebook post that he was going from the studio to CES Credit Union, "a walk that he has made weekly for the seven years that we have been in business in town."
That's when a 52-year-old Newark man allegedly struck Jones. He was driving a gray 2015 Dodge Ram truck westbound on West High Street, the OSHP stated, when he turned north onto North Sandusky Street.
The driver is accused of failing to yield and hitting Jones while he was walking in a marked pedestrian crosswalk.
Pine Row Studio said in a Facebook post that Jones' heart stopped beating as a result of the collision, "and a pedestrian administered CPR for the 10 minutes it took for the rescue squad to arrive and get his heart beating again."
Jones was immediately transported to Knox Community Hospital in critical condition, the OSHP stated. He was then flown to OhioHealth Grant Medical Center in Columbus, having sustained what Woodworth described in a Facebook post as "major brain trauma."
Jones remained in a deep coma for a week, receiving care in the hospital's intensive care unit, before succumbing to his injuries.
"It is with unfathomable sorrow shared among the entire family and so many friends, colleagues, patrons of the Studio – all whom Bill’s kindness, generosity and talents touched their lives, and mine. He left us this morning," Woodworth posted Thursday.
"He was surrounded and uplifted through his transition by the love and strength of family that he holds dear. He may no longer be with us in body, but will always be in our hearts. Hug tight, and always hug a little longer."
Pine Row Studio has been closed since the day of the crash. Woodworth thanked the community Monday for the support it has given her family over the last week-plus.
"I've held close the outpouring of love and gifts of kindness sent from all the good people of our business community and friends of the Studio near and far," Woodworth posted on Facebook.
"I continue to take one moment at a time and reach deep into my spirituality to find understanding. That is all I can do for now."
Meanwhile, the investigation into the crash remains ongoing. Once the OSHP is finished, it will hand over all evidence to the Knox County Prosecutor's Office, which will decide whether or not to charge the driver in the case.
The driver was not injured as a result of the collision, the OSHP stated. Alcohol and/or drug use are not suspected factors in the crash.
Jones' legacy in Knox County was on full display during Friday night's candlelight vigil.
He was described by neighbors, friends and business partners as generous, welcoming and remarkably intelligent.
"His brain was just a fountain of information. He could tell you who did what when, and about all kinds of pottery things, pottery people, pottery equipment or who you'd talk to for this or that. ..." Kenyon College Craft Center Instructor Robin Nordmoe said. "He was just a walking encyclopedia."
He was also described as a collaborative community partner, always willing to link arms with other local businesses and institutions to deliver results for the public.
"He was a good man. The thing is, as small business owners, it's tough. But he was always there," said Josh Kuhn, owner of Old Mr. Bailiwick's in Mount Vernon.
"He and I (did) a lot of collaborative stuff, and he was always the first one who wanted to help. ... We traded ideas, and of course, he and I talked a lot about sculpture work and art and things like that. But he and Pamela have always been in the shop and have always been there to help out.
"So if you take anything home with you, know that he was generously dedicated to the community, as well as the businesses."
Jones was friendly. He loved the outdoors. And according to those who knew him, he was relentlessly positive.
That's what made him special, Merckling said.
"He always had a smile on his face," said Merckling, tears filling the corners of her eyes. "And even if you didn't know him really well, you felt like you knew him."