James (Jim) Stone, the founder of the Stone’s Home Centers chain of stores, passed away on June 7 at Memorial Manor Nursing Home in Bainbridge, Ga. He was 94 years old, according to his obituary in The Post Searchlight.
Stone opened his first store in Bainbridge in April 1959, at the age of 41, with partner Charles Kirbo (now deceased). The chain now has nine stores located across southwest Georgia and north Florida.
Stone was known in a number of communities for the tagline in his commercials -- “There’s a Stone’s Store Near You!” It was also the title of his 2008 biography. After retiring in 1990 at the age of 72, he continued to actively promote his chain of stores and served as chairman of the company’s board of directors.
As a young man, Stone served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a B-17 bomber pilot, attaining the rank of second lieutenant. He was shot down over German-controlled oil fields in Romania and was taken as a prisoner of war. He was released in September 1944.
After getting a degree in agriculture from the University of Georgia, Stone returned to Bainbridge in 1949 and worked for the hardware store chain owned by his father-in-law, J.D. Bower Sr., who had been in business since the 1920s. Stone also worked for Western Auto and a Ford dealership in the 1950s, before starting his own business.