Warren Dean Jones, August 10, 1931—December 27, 1948
At first, the carved limestone basketball at Bedford’s Beech Grove Cemetery looks like a fan’s tribute to Indiana’s state sport—Hoosier basketball. As most know who follow sports, basketball is as popular in Indiana as football is in Odessa, Texas, or hockey in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But, the life size limestone basketball actually commemorates the poignant story of 17-year old, Warren Dean Jones.
It sounds almost cliché but Bedford which is known for limestone quarries and high-quality precision stonecutters named their high school basketball team Cutters just like the team in the movie Breaking Away about Bloomington’s famed bicycle race. During the 1948 season of his senior year, Jones, an honor roll student and popular athlete, was the star center leading the Bedford High School Cutters on scoring. After practice one afternoon, Jones went home complaining of not feeling well. When he didn’t start feeling better, his parents, Elmer and Eva, called the family doctor to come and examine him, but Warren Dean died of an apparent heart attack before the doctor arrived.
The community rallied around the family to pay respects to the fallen high school senior. The Cutters were to be in a tournament but the principal asked a team from Columbus, Indiana to take their place. The basketball players on Warren Dean’s team served as his pallbearers. And as a final tribute, the high school was to have a dance on the following night which was canceled. More than 40 high school girls donated the flowers from the corsages they were going to wear to form a floral blanket to drape over his casket.
The limestone basketball not only represents the sport that Warren Dean Jones loved but the community that loved him.