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Bill Kirby Jr.: African-American community had a champion in Darvin Jones

Jones was instrumental in urging the importance of vaccines in response to the coronavirus, hospital officials say.


Darvin Jones was a gentle man.

He was quiet-spoken and unassuming, and yet so vital and significant when it came to the better health of the African-American community as the face and voice of the Take Charge of Your Health initiative for Cape Fear Valley Health.

When it came to health issues where African Americans were at higher risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, influenza, diabetes, pneumonia, asthma, HIV/AIDS and sickle cell anemia, Jones was their champion. You found his work in partnership with local radio stations from WIDU, WFSS, WCCG, WUKS, WMGU, WMFA and WZFX Foxy 99, all working together to reduce health disparities affecting African Americans in this community. And when the COVID-19 health pandemic polarized this community, Jones was at the forefront for the African-American community.

“He was instrumental in our vaccine response in the African-American communities,” says Sabrina Brooks, vice president of the Cape Fear Valley Health Foundation. “And I would venture to say many in that community have been protected against COVID-19 as a result of his efforts.” 

You didn’t just hear his voice on the radio airwaves.

“He was a senior statesman and voice of reason,” says Mike Nagowski, chief executive officer for Cape Fear Valley Health. “He personally took Cape Fear Valley Health to barber shops and beauty shops.”

He knew the perils of the coronavirus and the associated strains, and he urged the importance of vaccines that could protect their daily lives. In his assuring way, Jones was there to educate and alleviate their fears.

‘Someone anyone could trust’

There is a pall on the second floor of the Cape Fear Valley Health marketing department along Village Drive, where colleagues are mourning the death of Darvin Jones. He died April 13 at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. He was 62.

“It all happened so quickly, from him at work on Friday before and us chatting at the end of the day per usual to having to say goodbye today,” Lindsey Graham was saying Tuesday before a service for Jones at the Cape Fear Conference B Headquarters in Raeford. “Darvin embodied the work culture and care we strive for every day here at Cape Fear Valley Health. He initiated and steered wellness programs in our community, especially reaching areas of underserved populations or where health disparities were greatest.

“Darvin was someone anyone could trust.

“Darvin helped bridge the gap of historic mistrust in health care, especially among black Americans,” Graham says. “Darvin would never steer anyone wrong, and would help people navigate receiving health care, which can seem and be overwhelming for many. Darvin’s reach throughout the community from well-known to lesser-known nonprofits was tremendous. In his 30-plus years with Cape Fear Valley Health, Darvin’s footprint was great.”

A beacon of light for others

Jones was a beacon of light for those facing health issues, Graham says, and he provided resources for their health care needs. And he always, Graham says, encouraged them to take care of their health and never take their health for granted.

“His outreach efforts,” Graham says, “helped adults learn their body’s numbers through various screenings, helped people in poverty receive dental care, battled the opioid crisis, participated in events to keep kids off the streets, served as a liaison with the local pastors’ coalition and literally saved people’s lives through his efforts.”

Jones was a television photojournalist for WWAY in his hometown of Wilmington after graduating from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. He was gifted at his craft behind the camera and brought his skills in the late 1980s to Fayetteville. He worked with WTVD and WRAL before finding his even greater passion with Cape Fear Valley Health.

He could tell any story from behind the video lens and nowhere better than his productions of the health system’s Making Rounds Live when it came to stories of health care. He knew the physicians and they knew their stories would be told well and accurately with Jones on the other side of the camera’s eye.

“Everything you would want from a professional,” Nagowski says. “We worked well together and it was an honor for me to work with him.”

Chaka Jordan is vice president of marketing and communications for Cape Fear Valley Health and remembers first meeting the marketing team of Ginny Capiot, Jason Brady, Anna Haley, Roxana Ross, James Morgan, Graham and Jones.

“It was refreshing to come to an organization as a new leader and to encounter Darvin as a team member whose first words to me were, ‘I’m here to ensure you’re successful,’” Jordan says. “Those first words that he said to me embodied Darvin’s whole spirit. He was the most selfless person I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. He always thought about others first and had a spirit of ‘I’ll help you.’ We couldn’t have had a more caring, empathetic person in him as our community outreach-minority health outreach coordinator. I feel blessed to have known Darvin, as I feel him being associated with Cape Fear Valley made our department better and our entire organization better.”


Darvin Jones was a good man in this community.

He was a good man for this community.

You’ll find his fingerprints and his footprints throughout, from the Umoja Festival annually celebrating black culture to serving as a member of the Fayetteville Urban Ministry board of directors to his compassionate outreach for the best of health in the African-American community and beyond. It wouldn’t have mattered the color of your skin. If you ever were in need of one to lift your spirit or take your hand for a better tomorrow, Darvin Keith Jones would be there for you.

It was his nature.

It was his compassionate way.

“He will be sorely missed in our community,” Brooks says, “and among the Cape Fear Valley Health family.”

And surely by Graham.

“Darvin was my best friend at work,” Graham says. “Someone I could always count on and trust. He brought kindness and laughter to my everyday life. He was so talented in many ways, and I was so fortunate to have such a wonderful colleague, friend and mentor. Darvin won’t just be remembered for all the wonderful things he did, but for the extraordinary heart, compassion and humbleness in which he did them.”

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

Column, Bill Kirby Jr., Darvin Jones, coronavirus, vaccines