Friends General Conference

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Memorial Minute: Theodore Jones

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Theodore Culver Jones, Jr.

Theodore Culver Jones, Jr. (known as Ted) was born on April 24, 1945, to Theodore Culver Jones and Sarah Horning Jones in Miami, Florida. The family moved to Jenkintown, PA, when Ted was about 6 months of age after his father was discharged from the Army at the end of World War II. Ted spent his childhood and teenage years in Jenkintown, where he had many Quaker friends, although his mother insisted that the family attend the Presbyterian Church for social reasons. He was graduated from the State University of New York at Alfred in 1968 with a BS in Engineering. He was inducted into the Army Corps of Engineers upon graduation. One of his ancillary duties was Survivors Assistance Officer and he suffered for the remainder of his life from vivid nightmares of the mangled bodies of dead teenagers sent back from Vietnam for burial. He earned an MS at the State University of New York at Cortland in Secondary Education in 1978 and taught high school science and mathematics for a number of years. He was a volunteer for Boy Scouts, teaching science and math merit badges on subjects ranging from making and flying rockets and kites to understanding geology and chemistry to practical use of first aid.

He married Sarah Bennett in 1966. They had one child, Theodore Daniel, in 1972, and divorced in 1979.

Ted began to attend Quaker Meeting regularly in Ithaca, NY, in 1980. Also in 1980, he began a relationship with Bonnie Zimmer (Haddonfield Monthly Meeting, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting) which was to blossom and endure for the remainder of his life. In May 1982 he and Bonnie formally expressed the sanctity of their covenant relationship in a Meeting for Worship held at their home in Ithaca, NY. They chose not to get a marriage license because they believed that marriage is a spiritual state and that the government has no business being involved. They attended Ithaca Monthly Meeting as a family (Bonnie's young son, Oolan, born in 1972, lived in Ithaca with them) until career changes necessitated a move to New Jersey in 1985.

Ted became a member of Haddonfield Monthly Meeting and for several years he worked as a volunteer in the Young Friends program, both on the Young Friends committee and as a Friendly Presence at many weekends and gatherings. Just as his favorite holiday when the boys were young had been Halloween, he loved to be at the Friendly Feinds Halloween weekend. Many Young Friends found him a source of patient listening and continued to seek him out for years after they had married and were raising families of their own.

In 1991 Ted and Bonnie moved to a house near the ocean, where they planned to live the rest of their lives, and became members of Barnegat Monthly Meeting. As he got older, Ted volunteered to help with FGC Gathering committees and he and Bonnie frequently led workshops at the annual FGC Gathering on topics ranging from environmental issues to spiritual journaling. They were active participants in Meeting activities, including a year-long Spiritual Formation Program that Barnegat Meeting decided to do as a Meeting. He was also instrumental in setting up an internet-based worship group (Beach Worship Group) composed of about 12 Quakers from around the United States who met regularly on-line and sporadicly in person at his home near the ocean for over ten years. He was not afraid to confront the demons of his psyche and that helped others in the group to reach deeper and grow spiritually and emotionally.

Hurricane Sandy destroyed their home at the beach in October 2012 and Ted never really recovered from the loss of his dream of living the rest of his life there by the ocean that he so loved. He and Bonnie moved to Gainesville, FL, to be close to family, and transferred their membership to Gainesville Monthly Meeting.

Ted was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer in late August 2015 and passed away on September 22, 2015, at home in the arms of his life partner. He is survived by Bonnie Zimmer, Oolan Zimmer and wife, Amanda, Theodore Daniel Jones and wife, Emirza, and three grandchildren: Irza, Adrianna, and Cassie Jones. His ashes were scattered in the woods surrounding the meetinghouse of Gainesville Monthly Meeting.