In Memoriam: Dr. William (Bill) Ronald Jones, Professor Emeritus


Published on Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:05

Dr. William Ronald Jones, Professor Emeritus
July 17, 1933-July 13, 2012

William Ronald Jones was born July 17, 1933 in Louisville, Kentucky. He was one of six children born to Lannie Brogsdale and Henry Jones. In 1976, Bill moved to Tallahassee, Florida, where he lived and worked until his death on Friday, July 13, 2012, just four days shy of his 79th birthday.

He received a BA in Philosophy (magna cum laude) from Howard University in 1955, a Masters of Divinity from Harvard University in 1958, and a Ph.D in Religious Studies from Brown University in 1969.

Dr. William R. Jones retired as the Director of the Afro-American Studies Program at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, Florida – a program of which he founded. A man of many achievements, his additional academic employment included, Director of the Graduate & Professional Study Fellowship Program at FSU, Associate Professor at the Yale Divinity School (1969-76), Coordinator of Black Studies at Yale University (1974-76), and he also served as a visiting professor at Brown University, Princeton Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, and Howard University.

Over the years, Dr. Jones received many Professional Awards and Honors including, induction into Phi Beta Kappa at Howard University, the first recipient of the African American Culture and Philosophy Award (1994-95), and the Distinguished Visiting Professorship in Afro-American studies at Lafayette College (1983-84), to name a few.

During his tenure at Florida State University he was noted for his outstanding work, and as such received many academic honors including, the Martin Luther King, Jr Distinguished Scholar Award (1986), the University Faculty Teaching Award (1989), the State of Florida Ida S. Baker Black Distinguished Educator Recognition Award, the Jim Barrett Social Justice Award (1995), and The William R. Jones Enhancement Fund – Research fund established by students and colleagues of Florida State University in 1991.

His work gained him national recognition and honors including the Urban League Family of the Year Award (1963), the Richard Allen Award, the Yale Divinity School Award (1972), the Danfouth Associate Award (1975), the Bragg Humanist of the Year Award (1989), the Jim Barrett Social Justice Award (1995), and numerous others. His life touched many, as he guided and nurtured numerous students through Ph.D. programs.

Dr. Jones was a prolific writer. He has a magnitude of publications including three books – Is God a White Racist? 1st (1973) and 2nd (1997) Editions, and Black Theology II (1978) – and a vast number of articles in such publications as the Harvard Theological Review, Christian Century, Religious Education and Reflection.

His parents, two brothers, John and Beechie, and sister, Lela, predeceased Dr. Jones. He is survived by his former wife of 35 years, Lauretta H. Jones, and children, Jeffrey Jones, Esq. (Cheryl), Darrell Jones, a professor at Columbia College Chicago (Steve), and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. His surviving siblings include Cecil Jones and Gilmer Jones Callender (Ronald).

Dr. Jones enjoyed traveling, conducting research in mechanisms of oppression, community activism and cooking. His life motto was “you show your love through actions, not words alone.” A celebration of his life will be held on Sunday, August 19, 2012 in Tallahassee, Florida – for location details please check websites below.