Life Advice from Jack Semones

We sat down with Town North YMCA's first executive director to talk about his experience with the YMCA and the lessons he has learned along the way...

At the age of 92, nothing much holds Jack Semones back. Sitting down with Semones, he casually brings up riding 9 miles on his bike 3 times a week as well as getting in a swim or two at the Semones Pool at Town North. "I love work. Work doesn’t bother me, I am blessed to be healthy and I can do it."  

For Semones, his love for work started at the age of 10 on a similar hot summers day as at the parade and picnic. "My first experience with the YMCA was when I was ten years old in Ohio. I am from a family of 12 children and was raised poor (we were a happy family but didn’t have any money). It cost $5 to play baseball in the Y program and I was down there watching them assign teams and the Y director at the time told me to come down and that they wanted me to play. I told him that I didn’t have the $5 and he told me that I could earn it. So he hired me to pick up the bases and trash off the fields." 

From there on, Semones's love for the YMCA only continued to grow. Coming to Dallas in 1952, Semones worked for the Park Cities Y, now Moody Family YMCA, until asked to start what today is known as the Town North YMCA.  "I started the Y out of my car with my phone. I had a trampoline that I put on top of my old 47 Ford and I went out and set it out on Hillcrest and Royal Lane." Jack explains. "When I started bouncing on the trampoline the kids came like flies. I wouldn’t let them jump on the trampoline until I met their parents. Most of the families loved what we were doing and supported me, in fact, I haven’t been having my trampoline out for very long until three of those families put trampolines in their yard so I could come to their yard instead of having in in my Ford." 

Town North's success today can be brought back to Semones passionate heart and determination to create a home for the community. However, Jack sees it in a different light. "It’s not me who created all of this, I just found good people and good programs and I had lots of people in this community to let this grow." Jack explains. "I just facilitated it, but the community was the one who made the difference. I couldn’t do anything without them." Throughout it all, Jack stays grounded to what matters the most to him. "I love the Lord, I love my family, and I love the YMCA. " 

When asked if he could share some words of wisdom, Semones smiles and says quite simply, "you know yourself better than anybody, so take your talents and don’t hesitate to believe in yourself and magnify who you are."   

Authored: Colleen McCauley, 2018 YMCA Dallas Storyteller Intern