Jean Clark Jones

JonesJean Clark Jones, 104, on January 9, 2018, in Alexandria, Va. Jean was born on December 6, 1913, in Youngstown, Ohio, to Jean Beatrice Small and Colin Reed Clark. Born prematurely, she was kept in a warming oven (used for rising bread) and in grade three was sent to relatives in Three Forks, Mont., to avoid exposure to her older sister’s diphtheria. From grade three, the school skipped her to grade five because she was so far ahead—the resulting age difference causing isolation from classmates in spite of the comfort academic study gave her. She attended Miss Beard’s School for Girls in New Jersey and graduated from Wells College; from Case Western Reserve University (then Western Reserve University) in English and political science; and from Carnegie Mellon University (then Carnegie Institute of Technology) in library science.

She married Chicagoan John H. Jones, living in Fairmont, W.V., until World War II, and moving back to Youngstown to live with her parents during John’s Naval Air Service. When her children began grade school, she worked as a cataloguer at Fairmont State College, ignoring a reprimand for giving library cards to black children. She and John divorced, and she was a librarian at Linmoor Junior High School in Columbus, Ohio, and then a medical librarian at Ross Laboratories.

Having grown up as Presbyterian, in her mid-50s she sought out first the Unitarians and then the Quakers, whom she met in Columbus. Averse to being told what to do or think, she was led to this religion without a creed and this community that sought to experience God and believed, as she did, in that of God in every person. She moved to Bethesda, Md., to work as head librarian and archivist at the American Psychiatric Association Library and Archives. In 1963 she attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and began attending Bethesda Meeting.

After she was 60, in spite of a life-threatening assault, a bus that crashed and rolled down a mountain, and a hip replacement after a car driven by a diplomatic-immune teenager struck her, she remained forgiving and courageous, visiting Communist China, taking her grandchildren on intergenerational tours with Elderhostel, and enjoying family gatherings. She volunteered with American Friends Service Committee, William Penn House, Friends Committee on National Legislation, the League of Women Voters, and on the White House comment phone line and mail room during the Clinton administration.

In 2010, she moved from Bethesda to Goodman House in Alexandria, Va., and transferred her membership to Alexandria Meeting. Friends recall her interesting conversations during hospitality hour; the time she helped a wee Friend build a spectacular piece of road engineering equipment, laughing delightedly each time the car leapt into space; and her intellectual curiosity. Over 50 years after the 1963 March on Washington, she attended the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s opening gala. Her legacy lives on in the memories of family and friends, many of whom turned out on a treacherously icy day for her 100th birthday. She transcribed her grandfather’s pencil-written Civil War diary with its unusual abbreviations and writing sometimes down the side of the page. She used Facebook, was on Skype many times a week, and enjoyed Internet research. During her last month of life, she completed a Goodwin House Miscellany article about Benjamin Rush, founder of American psychiatry and signer of the Declaration of Independence. At the time of her death she was reading a book about Shakespeare by Harold Bloom.

She is survived by four children, the Rt Rev. David Jones, Philip Jones, Michael Jones, and Laura Jones; nine grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

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