Philip Howell Jones

JonesPhilip Howell Jones, 74, on September 8, 2019, in Wyndmoor, Pa., of prion disease. Phil was born on August 5, 1945, in Bronxville, N.Y., to Virginia Wall and H. Blandin Jones. After his middle school, his family moved from Westchester County, N.Y., to Houston, Tex., where he attended Lamar High School. Along the way the Joneses transitioned from Methodist to Unitarian. He graduated from Rice University as a German major in 1967, marrying Nancy Tips soon after. After two enriching years serving the Peace Corps in Brazil, coming to love the culture, the people, and the food, he attended graduate school in education at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., and taught for a few years in St. Louis, where his daughter, Meredith, was born.

About 1973, he and his family moved to a cooperative community in Shickshinny, Pa., where they made wooden toys. In 1979, having separated from Nancy, he moved to Philadelphia, Pa., where he taught science at Friends Select School, bringing out the best in his students. There he came to know Ann Wuetig, and they married in 1981 and had a son, Andrew. He also found a home among Quakers, so after he left Friends Select in 1987, he and his family started attending Chestnut Hill Meeting in Philadelphia. In 1984–2015 he was a technical writer, and he also sang bass with the Mendelssohn Club and served on its board of directors.

He joined Chestnut Hill Meeting in 1995 and served on many committees and as clerk of the Care and Counsel Committee. He was twice meeting clerk, shepherding the meeting through difficult decision making that led to building a new meetinghouse. Then he became the meeting secretary: a beloved, helpful presence, orchestrating weddings and memorial services; working with community groups; updating the meeting directory, the newsletter, and the website; and attending to the myriad details such a job entails. He loved greeting and nurturing first-time attenders to worship, and many newcomers attributed their staying in the meeting to his warm welcome and support. His skill at building community made the meeting larger and more vibrant than it had been when he first came. He was meeting secretary until just before his death. He also served on the boards of the Northwest Neighborhood Interfaith Movement, Historic Fair Hill, and Friends Life Care.

A devoted friend and Friend with a strong memory, he lived out Quaker testimonies and precepts with a light hand. He loved people and savored hearing their stories, always finding connections with them. He was generous and supportive to all he met, seeing humor in many things and easily exploding with contagious laughter. He loved poetry, enjoyed a good story, and relished challenges such as teaching the meeting how to operate the James Turrell Skyspace, a complicated and integral part of the new meetinghouse. He frequently offered thoughtful vocal minister. Phil walked the walk as a Friend.

In the summer of 2019, when he became ill, he had to step away from his many meeting roles. Eventually he was diagnosed with the rare and lethal Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and died just a few weeks later. Chestnut Hill Friends mourn his passing, and this tribute was framed from notes taken at his memorial service, interviews with his widow and other Friends, and ideas contributed by the Worship and Ministry Committee.

Phil is survived by his wife, Ann Wuetig Jones; two children, Meredith Tips-McLaine (Michael McLaine) and Andrew McFerran Jones; a beloved grandson; a sister, Eleanor Jones; his former wife, Nancy Tips; a brother-in-law, Tom Stovall; and dear Connor, his Corgi–St. Bernard mix.

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