Creative lights shining bright, even in the darkness
If you find yourself looking for inspiration, hope, and creativity all in the same place, you might want to experience Lights On Mason located at Bella Patina in the West Bottoms on the first weekend of every month. Here you will also find Lee’s Summit resident, Larry Jones, the creator behind these incredibly unique and amazing light fixtures that have been enhancing homes, offices and many other environments for years.
Unlike many great artists, it was not the result of being born with a rare talent that brought Larry to the place he is today. Rather he discovered his gift while fighting through the pain of an extremely rare disease that robbed him of his son Tyler at the age of 23.
During his freshman year of high school Tyler was diagnosed with Leigh’s Syndrome. He had been dealing with symptoms from the time he was 6 years old. Tyler was full of life and had a passion for sports, so he did all he could to not let this challenge set him back. The Joneses found strength in their love for each other to carry on and fight this disease to the very end, and Tyler himself was determined to turn his trial into a triumph.
Tyler graduated high school in 1994 from Arch Bishop O’Hara High School, now St. Michael the Archangel in Lee’s Summit. Tyler loved watching his siblings play sports, and he especially loved traveling and watching his brother, Trent, and sister, Tessa, play volleyball and basketball. As the years went on, the physical challenges grew more intense, which perhaps in many ways unseen at the time made the Jones family even stronger. Though he did all he could do to fight the deadly disease, Tyler passed away in December of 1998. He was finally set free.
Despite all of the pain and heartache Larry and his wife, Teresa, were going through, they were determined to honor Tyler’s memory by finding a way to help and inspire others. This led them to start the Tyler Jones Memorial Scholarship Fund. The scholarships are awarded annually to graduating seniors with a GPA of 2.5 or above. The Joneses set this standard because they wanted to help the kids who perhaps need the most help. Each applicant for the scholarship must submit a written essay and have a minimum of three recommendations from teachers stating why they are deserving of the scholarship. Since Tyler’s death, the memorial fund in his name has awarded scholarships to approximately 25 students who are determined to work hard, live life to the fullest, and overcome the obstacles in front of them.
Not only did Larry and Teresa determine in their hearts that they were going to help others through the scholarship fund, Teresa even began volunteering her time at Children’s Mercy Hospital. She has donated her time in the oncology and NICU departments for 18 years.
For both Larry and Teresa, giving back to others was a way they could find their own healing from the pain they went through with Tyler’s illness and his passing.
Larry hopes to inspire others by encouraging every person to find the creativity that is within them. He considers himself to have been born with very little artistic or creative ability. He laughs as he recalls his years in sales where he was limited to drawing stick figures on overhead projectors to illustrate his point. As he was approaching retirement, his wife commented that they were going to have to find a way to keep Tyler’s memorial scholarship fund going. There simply had to be a way to generate another source of income. It was with this in mind that Larry discovered his hidden talent of steampunk and repurposed lighting. Steampunk is an inspired, artistic creativity that typically reflects Victorian England or America’s Wild West, combined with modern technologies. As he searched through ideas he found on Etsy and Pinterest, and he began experimenting, Lights On Mason was born.
Larry will be featured on the HGTV show “Bargain Mansions” in November. He has so much fun creating and making the lights, and it certainly keeps him busy in his retirement. Lights On Mason is not only inspiring Larry to carry on Tyler’s legacy of strength, he hopes his lighting creations will inspire others to live strong and find ways to turn trials into triumphs.