Brothers reunited after four decades

April 12, 1997


Staff Writer

The five boys born to Charles Lester and Helen Lee Jones in the late 1940s and early 1950s were together for the first time in more than 40 years Saturday in what one called the most overwhelming, heartwarming moment of his life.

The brothers ranged in ages from 1 to 7 when a judge ordered them taken away from their parents after they were determined to be unfit. Their father died in 1947 and their mother died 10 years ago.

The two oldest brothers, Ronald Jones, 48, of Martinsburg, W.Va., and James Jones, 47, of Turners Lane, Hagerstown, grew up together in a local foster home. They lost track of their three younger brothers who were sent to an orphanage and eventually adopted by different couples.


Kathryn French, the boys' aunt and sister to their birth mother, said she remembers when the family was separated. "The two oldest boys went to live with the foster family on that farm, but the other three youngest were just babies. They were so small, but I thought it was the best thing to do at the time," she said.

"I was shocked when I learned that they had found those boys again," she said.

The five brothers had a reunion Saturday morning at James Jones' house.

Jones said he had been trying for years to find his younger siblings. His wife Lisa learned of Rhonda Barmoy-Wilt and the Adoption Support Services of Western Maryland in Cumberland. She asked Barmoy-Wilt for help.

Two weeks later Barmoy-Wilt called and said she had located the three youngest boys. Barmoy-Wilt, who could not be reached Saturday, does not charge for her services, Lisa Jones said.

James Jones said he called his brothers as soon as he could.

Dave Roberts, 46, lives near Salisbury on Maryland's Eastern Shore. "I was adopted when I was 6," he said. His adopted parents are dead. He was their only child.

James called and left a message on his answering machine. "I knew I had brothers, but I didn't know how many or where they were," he said. "I was leery at first. I didn't want to call James back because I was afraid I'd get too emotional on the phone. I asked a friend to call for me," he said.

"I was dumbfounded," said Paul Brode, 45, of Frostburg, Md. "I knew my birth parents were named Jones and when James called and told me who he was and what he wanted I said, `Hi, brother.'"

Richard Hopkins, 43, of Raleigh, N.C., grew up in Cambridge, Md., about 30 miles from Salisbury, but he never realized he had a brother close by, he said.

Hopkins said he didn't know that he had any brothers until two weeks ago when James called. "When I found out I couldn't wait to pack my bag. Nothing mattered, work, nothing. It was such a thrill to find I had brothers. It was overwhelming, heartwarming. I got all choked up. This is a wonderful thing," he said.

Hopkins arrived at James' home Friday night, the first brother to arrive. Roberts and Brode came Saturday morning.

James Jones said there was always a void in his life. "I knew I had three younger brothers, but I never knew where they were or if they were even alive," he said.

"It's funny how we just met and how we can all sit here and talk to each other," Hopkins said.

"And we all seem so at ease with each other," Brode said.

"I wish we'd done this years ago," Ronald Jones said.

"When we found out we just started calling each other," James Jones said.

"We talked for hours and ran up big phone bills," Roberts said.

"We have a lot of making up to do," Brode said. "It's hard for us to comprehend all of this after all these years," he said.

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