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Friends remember two killed in Saturday accidents
01/26/2016 - By Matt Smith msmith@trcle.com - Cleburne Times Review
Friends on Monday remembered Mario Rendon and Steven “Cody” Jones, both of whom lost their lives on Saturday in unrelated accidents.

Jones, 44, of Kopperl, died about 4 a.m. after his truck rolled on Park Road 21, ejecting him in the process.

Rendon died about 10:40 a.m. the same morning in a tractor accident off Farm-to-Market Road 3136.

Rendon, 59, owned and operated Mario’s Elite Paint & Body Shop in Cleburne, which he opened after retiring from Wal-Mart.

“He was my boss but we were also really good friends,” said Larry Mitchell, manager of the body shop. “Mario was just really great to work with, was very good to me. He never had a bad word to say about anyone that I can remember, was always helping people, whoever needed help. I’m going to miss him. He was a great friend and just an all around good guy. I don’t know how else to put it.”

Cleburne resident Peter Svendsen agreed.

“Mario was my best friend and a joy to know,” Svendsen said. “He had a great sense of humor, laughed all the time and truly loved his family. His grandson is on his mission right now in Nicaragua, which is something Mario was very proud of.”

Svendsen said he met Rendon about 20 years ago through his church, Cleburne’s The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where Rendon later served as a bishop.

“In 1999 Tom Hazlewood, who was then Cleburne’s mayor, called us into his office and that’s where the idea for Christmas In April began, which is now called Christmas in Action,” Svendsen said. “Mario nominated me to serve as the first president so, of course, I nominated him as vice president and he really played a huge role in getting that off the ground, which has raised so much money through the years and continues to help so many local families.”

Rendon involved himself in church and community based projects and charitable outreach efforts throughout life, Svendsen said.

“Mario was the type who loved to be involved and help,” Svendsen said. “There were some people at church who needed to move but couldn’t afford to and weren’t the type who would ask for help. Soon as Mario learned about that he got us all together and was right there with his trailer to help those people. He was right there with his equipment helping to clean up Buddy Stewart Park when we staged the Randy Rogers concert a few years back to raise money for the tornado victims.”

Svendsen said Mario, he and other friends in their group referred to themselves as the Amigos and loved each others’ company and undertaking projects to benefit the community.

Cleburne Public Works Director Courtney Coates, who is also a member of Cleburne’s The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shared similar sentiments about his friend.

“Mario was an extraordinarily generous person, generous to a fault at times and very accepting of all the people he met and knew,” Coates said.

Mitchell agreed.

“Oh yeah, he would give everyone a second chance, two or three chances in a lot of cases,” Mitchell said. “But he loved working with young people and helping them, teaching them the importance of making plans and setting goals.”

Cleburne resident and church member Ben Hill Jones remembered Rendon as a dear friend always ready to help anyone in need.

“If he told you he would do something it was as good as done,” Jones said. “He had a great influence on our congregation and will be dearly missed.”

Born July 15, 1956, in Michoacan, Mexico, Rendon and his eight siblings migrated to America in 1964.

In 1976 in Houston, Rendon met his wife, Tamara “Tammy” Rendon, and the two went on to have two children, Joshua and Jennifer.

Known as Papa Mo by family members, Rendon enjoyed golf, collecting classic cars and working his property.

Rendon’s funeral services will be at 3 p.m. Wednesday at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 303 S. Nolan River Road in Cleburne.

Jones remembered

Jones also spoke of Cody Jones, who is his nephew, calling him a true entrepreneur who developed a strong work ethic early on.

“Cody worked raising cattle from a young age on their farm south of town,” Jones said. “Then he transferred from Cleburne to Grandview for school where he got involved in FFA. He and some of his friends did a project to restore old Ford tractors and by the time he was 16 or 17 he had a good business going of getting these old tractors that were sitting out rusting in a field and redoing the motors and restoring them.

“He had a real sense of getting in at the right time and knowing when to get out at the right time on business ventures. Cody went on to get into real estate, storage units, bought a bunch of water trucks when he saw the need when all the gas drilling activity picked up here a few years back.”

Jones was born in Cleburne on Nov. 7, 1971.

Among other endeavors, Jones owned and operated a wildlife ranch and was a lifelong avid outdoorsman. As a member of Safari Club International, Jones served on the board of directors of the North Texas Chapter as vice president for three years.

Jones devoted much of his time supporting youth hunting programs and otherwise worked with young people. His daughter, Kendall Jones, is a well-known hunter.

Cleburne High School student Garett Reband, a family friend, posted on Facebook that words can’t begin what Jones meant to his family.

“He was a dear friend to all of us and like a brother to my mom,” Reband said. “Cody was a tremendous help getting me on the junior tour and making my dream of playing golf a reality. He faithfully came and watched me play, even on bad days.

“[A friend] texted me yesterday and he said it better than I can. He said, ‘It’s a sad day, but now you will play for so much more than a score; you will play for a friend.’ We will really miss you Cody.”

Services for Jones will be conducted at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church of Cleburne.

On the web: www.CleburneTimesReview.com

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