FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — For the last three decades, people in Forsyth County have known Larry Jones as one of Santa’s helpers.
He was part of the area’s holiday traditions and for those who knew him well, they said every day was Christmas to Larry.
A few weeks ago, Larry became sick and never recovered. He was 76.
Jill Jones is his daughter-in-law. She said Larry died from COVID-19 and that his passing has hit the community hard.
As she scrolled through photographs in her phone, she told Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen that she has nothing but happy memories of Larry.
“I never really considered him a father-in-law. He was more like a father to many,” Jones said.
Larry was Father Christmas to tens of thousands for the last 33 years in Forsyth County. Loved ones said he was a man who had that holiday spirit year-round.
“His son and I became friends when we were in high school. From the moment I walked in the door of his house, you knew that door was open to everybody,” family friend Josh Bennett said.
In early November, Larry once again donned his holiday clothes, bringing joy to as many children as time allowed.
“You can’t go through your Facebook page if you’re from Forsyth County and not see something about this man. That’s how loved he was,” Bennett said.
Jones told Petersen that her family is strong, has faith and found comfort in the day Larry passed away -- Christmas Eve.
“It did give us some peace, because it was his favorite time of year. For him to get to celebrate Jesus’s birthday in person — no one was more deserving,” Jones said.
A memorial service for Larry Jones will be held Tuesday in Cumming. He will be laid to rest in Dawsonville.
© 2021 Cox Media Group