November 30, 2019

By Tribune Staff

When Lee’s Summit resident Larry Jones was about to retire from his sales job, he wanted to find a way to stay busy while keeping his son Tyler’s memorial scholarship fund going.

After seeing steampunk-style repurposed lighting on Pinterest and Etsy, Larry made a light fixture himself and discovered that he had a talent for it. He had never attempted to make anything like this before because he didn’t think he could.

“My kids bought me a t-shirt once that said, ‘Mr. Make it Worse,’” Larry said. “If I had a project that I was working on like a faucet that was leaking, before I was done there would be pipes leaking. I’m not mechanical by nature, but I’ve been able to figure out this stuff.”

Larry said he makes the light fixtures out of just about anything he can find at flea markets and antique shops, from vintage radio speakers to plumbing pipes.

About five years ago, Larry and his wife, Teresa, opened Lights on Mason, a booth at Bella Patina in the West Bottoms where they sell his one-of-a-kind vintage light fixtures. All proceeds go to support the Tyler Jones Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of their late son.

“It’s something my wife and I do together, and we’ve met a lot of wonderful people – not only customers, but the other vendors at Bella Patina have become our really close friends,” Larry said. “It’s something that we’re able to do together, and I think that’s important when people retire.”

Tyler graduated in 1994 from Archbishop O’Hara High School, now St. Michael the Archangel Catholic High School in Lee’s Summit.

“It was very much a home away from home for Tyler,” Larry said. “He loved it, so we wanted to come up with something to help keep his memory alive.”

Tyler was diagnosed with a rare disease called Leigh’s Syndrome during his freshman year of high school, but he had been dealing with symptoms since he was 6 years old.

The Jones’ traveled all over the country for about three years going to different doctors and hospitals to try to find something that would help Tyler, but there isn’t much research on the disease. Tyler died in 1998 at the age of 23.

Since Tyler’s death, the Tyler Jones Memorial Scholarship Fund has awarded scholarships to 22 students.

“My goal is just to get enough money into the scholarship fund so that after we pass away, our kids can carry on the scholarship for 100 years and the money will be there,” Larry said.

Lights on Mason is open the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday of every month at Bella Patina, located at 1320 W. 12th St. in Kansas City.