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Delores Jones' name lives on at cancer center
Seattle Times staff reporter
One of Steven Jones' earliest memories is as a child sitting on his mother's shoulders at Cheney Stadium in Tacoma in 1963, watching President John F. Kennedy stand on the pitching mound and speak to the thousands gathered around the field.
He still remembers the presidential helicopter spitting sand into his eyes.
Delores Haglund Jones taught her two children that political involvement was an important part of life, and that's why Jones and his sister would march in anti-war demonstrations and watch as their mother became immersed in Democratic politics.
Mrs. Jones, 80, died after a stroke last Wednesday (June 1) at her home on Camano Island.
"She was the most wonderful person," said Enrique Cerna, host of the public-television program "KCTS Connects." "No matter what her condition was, she put on this bright, strong face."
With her husband, Floyd, Mrs. Jones was a longtime contributor to many Seattle institutions, including KCTS. Cerna recalls attending the couple's 50th wedding anniversary celebration two years ago. He asked Mrs. Jones for the secret of their long and happy marriage. "You learn to forgive," she told Cerna.
Mrs. Jones, an only child, was born in Cedarhome, near Stanwood. She drove a school bus during World War II for cannery workers and the school district. She graduated in 1950 from the University of Washington and went to work for the King County welfare department.
She met her future husband at a dinner party in Seattle.
"I had a dance with her and we just fit," said Floyd Jones, executive vice president of First Washington, a Seattle brokerage firm.
In 1986, the couple formed the Floyd and Delores Jones Foundation, a conduit that brings contributions to many community organizations. In addition to supporting KCTS, the foundation financed a chair in the arts at the University of Washington and also gave to the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation and Planned Parenthood Foundation. It recently made a grant supporting the Union Gospel Mission's plans to build a center for abused women in South Seattle.
Earlier this year, the new cancer center at Virginia Mason Medical Center was named for Mrs. Jones after the couple made a $1 million contribution to the hospital.
"The family has a very strong commitment in improving the care of cancer patients," said Andrew Jacobs, chief of cancer services at Virginia Mason. "Delores was a very intelligent, expressive person who knew her mind. She knew exactly what she wanted and where she was going."
While the Joneses were devoted philanthropists, they were very humble, said Jacobs.
Son Steven Jones, who lives in Seattle and on Camano Island, agrees.
"They weren't ostentatious in their manner," he said. "They sought to give back to society what they felt society had given to them."
He said his mother had twice beaten breast cancer and believed that contributing to the Virginia Mason hospital was a way to pay back for the care she had received. "We felt Virginia Mason saved my mother's life," Jones said.
He said his mother was a tremendous crusader for women's rights and was a very socially conscious Democrat. She also was a great cook, he said, and delighted in providing for her family.
In 1997, members of the Association of Fundraising Professionals honored the Joneses by naming them outstanding philanthropic couple of the year. Floyd Jones said he and his wife have given away more than $4 million.
He said his wife's biggest passion probably was the public-television station, although she was also committed to Planned Parenthood.
While she never considered getting into politics herself, Delores Jones was an activist Democrat and a member of EMILY's List, which donates to Democratic women candidates. She also was a close friend of Democratic Sen. Patty Murray from their PTA days.
"Delores and Floyd were among my earliest friends and supporters, going back to my Shoreline roots," Murray said last week. "Delores was a passionate believer and was unselfish in her support of people and causes that promoted a peaceful world. She was a gracious lady whose quiet demeanor belied her strength and her willingness to fight hard for the causes she believed in. I will miss her so much."
The couple loved to travel, said Floyd Jones, and to spend time at their second home on Camano Island.
Six months ago, Mrs. Jones asked her husband to help her write her obituary. "We both knew we were getting older and her health has been threatened over the last five years," he said.
In addition to her husband and son, Mrs. Jones is survived by her daughter, Laura Knudson, of Ellensburg, and two granddaughters.
The family is planning no funeral service but has scheduled a celebration of Mrs. Jones' life from 1 to 5 p.m. June 25 at the Camano Senior and Community Center, 606 Arrowhead Road, Camano Island.
Contributions can be made to the Floyd Norgaard Cultural Center, P.O. Box 69, 27130 102nd Ave N.W., Stanwood, WA 98292; the Camano Senior and Community Center, 606 Arrowhead Road, Camano Island, WA 98282; or the Stanwood Senior Center, 7430 276th St. N.W., Stanwood, WA 98292.
Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company