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November 26, 2013

Decatur man has perfect attendance at Iron Bowl

— MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Al Jones is the last man standing among the official members of the Alabama-Auburn Perfect Attendance Club. When he visits Jordan-Hare Stadium this weekend for the annual Iron Bowl clash, the Decatur native will have mixed feelings about that accomplishment.

He's been attending the event every year since the rivalry's renewal in 1948 and that 66-game streak is an incredible accomplishment that he's proud of. But his status as the only remaining member of the club means longtime friends Dick Coffee of Birmingham and Oakley Melton of Montgomery passed away since the 2012 game, leaving the 87-year-old Jones as the only remaining member of an organization that numbered in the dozens when it was started by Melton in the mid-1950s.

"I guess there were 30 or 40 of us in it at first," Jones said. "I wonder why I'm the last one standing. The guy I really admired is Dick Coffee, who had a streak of 781 straight Alabama games. His wife described it perfectly at his funeral when she said Dick had never seen Alabama play on television."

Jones was a navigator in the Air Force when World War II ended and he enrolled at Alabama after the war. A fraternity brother of Melton, the trio of Jones, Coffee and Melton attended the first Iron Bowl at Legion Field in 1948.

"I was in school down there," he said. "I went to the game in 1948 and 1949 when I was in school, and I just kept on going. Then there was some inspiration to it after Oakley started the club.

"One of the great things about it is I've been alive for every one of Alabama's national championships. I was six days old when Alabama beat Washington in the 1926 Rose Bowl."

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