"The most beautiful woman in San Jose" - Alex Hart
Ann Harris Jones died peacefully Thursday morning, April 25, 2013, in her home, as she wanted, surrounded by all her children and their families. Just shy of her 92nd birthday (May 12) and sooner than her oft-stated goal of 104, she was truly grateful for and delighted in knowing that she had a life, fully lived. She was a naturalist, an artist, a closet anthropologist, a lifelong learner, a world traveler, an avid reader, a good friend, a devoted mother, wife, sister and daughter, aunt and godmother. She was an entirely remarkable woman who walked through life with impeccable style and amazing beauty and grace.
Ann Ellen, her name to childhood friends and family, was born in Phoenix, Arizona, to Mildred and J. Neil Harris, as they were en route to Beverly Hills, California from Mayfield, Kentucky. The family home on Rexford Drive was a touchstone for her throughout her life, and filled with memories of a loving family, dedicated to hard work, family tradition, higher education, service to God, Country and community, and to having some fun all along the way.
She embraced her role as big sister to her adored little brother Mayfield, made friends for life, and delighted in her parents love and mutual respect for each other. The glitz and glamour of growing up in the land of movie moguls and Hollywood stars provided her lifelong enjoyment of the movies and the Oscar Parades, as did her Dad's love for planting of Birch Trees and her Mom's commitment to healthy living. Ann was grateful for her college education and proud to be UCLA Bruin, a Theta, and an Art History Major. After a brief stint working as a model and window dresser at Saks, she was married at All Saints Episcopal Church by her spiritual mentor, the Reverend Jack ( and Alice) Smith, to the man she loved, E.D. "Bud" Jones. This launched the career of her choice as wife and partner, and as mother and home maker, requiring her to table her fantasy about being a professional downhill skier.
Ann was totally dedicated to providing an intellectually stimulating, creative, playful, healthy and spiritual home for her family. Art, music, dance lessons, imaginary plays, swimming and tennis, horseback riding, reading, reading, and reading, chores and church, and most certainly holiday family traditions were all part of what she created. She modeled her commitment to nature by engaging her children planting a backyard vegetable garden and was by all accounts, the original ecologist, recycling anything she could as early as the 1950's. A naturalist and artist, she was passionate about pointing out the beauty of the orchards, sunlight playing on trees, the music of whales, the vastness of the deserts and oceans, and the magic of Haileys Comet. She fulfilled her closet desires to be an anthropologist by travelling the world; sailing to the Galapagous Islands, crossing Europe on the Orient Express, and travelling to her most favorite Africa two times. As archivist, and art historian, her home is filled with photo albums of each of her adventures and her kitchen, which she called her walk-in scrapbook, reflects her dedication to family, fun, art, and the great humor and wit she enjoyed especially as a shared experience.
Ann was fully engaged in creating community, for San Jose, her family and herself. She was a founding member of the San Jose Museum of Art, President of the Service League, the San Jose Chapter of the Junior League, and an active member of the PTA and the Better Education Committee. She enthusiastically supported the San Jose Symphony, the Jazz Festival of Monterey, and music from cultures around the World. Throughout her life she was an active parishioner at Trinity Episcopal Church, where her children were baptized, confirmed and several were wed, and provided hospitality even in her waning years to Sarah's Circle, and other church gatherings. She left her mark as artist in contributing to the needlepoint work Trinity needed as well.
As a founding member of the infamous Tuesday Ladies Art and Chatting Society, she developed loving friendships with a group of amazing women. Together, they studied art, drank wine, shared family stories, protested the Vietnam War and ran a pool betting on Nixon's impeachment date. The TL's weathered illnesses, losses, and heartbreaks; helped elect Senators, Congressmen, and the first women Mayors of San Jose; and modeled the value of group support, deeply held friendships, and sharing life. She was an active, swimming member of the YMCA for 40 years, only recently transferring her exercise routine to the Timpany Center where she swam up to three times a week, as recently as the first week in March this year.
She courageously led her adult children into and was grateful for the lifesaving support of friendships in Al-Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous, a major change point in the family's lives. And during the past 16 yrs., Ann journeyed through life with an Alzheimers dementia diagnosis. She was ultimately had an acceptance of this and again modeled how to embrace a terminal illness without being defined by it, frequently introducing herself as having Alzheimers, managing with humor and grace, and putting her audience at ease with the announcement of this reality. She was advocate, group member, and a grateful recipient of service from the Alzheimers Association and her family will be forever grateful to John Timbs, and the work of the whole team in Mt. View, California for their help.
Ann considered herself blessed to have and is survived by her four children, and their spouses, and her five grandchildren: Susan Jones and Lee Oftedahl, Laura and Paul McCabe, Andrew and Velda Garcia Jones, Sarah and John Hinkle; Noah Oftedahl, Emma and Anna Garcia Jones, and Jordan and John "Ben" Hinkle. She loved the tradition of family holiday gatherings with her parents celebrating with her brothers' family and being Auntie to Ann, Mike and Martha and their families for the past 65 years. She had a lasting friendship with Ruth Fenton, and an abiding love for her Fenton Godchildren, Daniel, Juanita and Lowry. The Jones family is especially grateful to the special care and love given to her during the past three years by her companion and friend, Bale Volavola and her family, and to the many friends who have continued to be present in every phase of her life. Services will be held at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, San Jose, Friday, May 3 at 11:00 a.m.