February 2, 1929 - May 1, 2020
~The Life Journey of Theola McKay Jones~ The life journey of Theola Jones began on February 2, 1929 at 10:30 a.m., when she was born in the home of her paternal grandmother Sophie Jackson in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Her birth parents, Velma Vandalia Rickmon and Theodore Shaw Jackson preceded her in death along with her siblings: a sister, Marie and three brothers: Sandie, Stinson and William Benjamin, and her adopted father, Spencer McKay. The family relocated to the City of Inkster, Michigan in 1936. This is where her lifelong love for the City of Inkster and the residents began. Theola attended Inkster Public Schools and graduated fourth in her class in 1947 from Inkster High School. She was a member of the first Inkster High School Cheerleaders Squad, Editor of the 1947 Yearbook and was voted the “MOST POPULAR GIRL.” ~Love for Family~ The Lord had plans for Theola’s life. The Heavenly Father permitted her to marry her high school sweetheart and love of her life, Aaron Jones Jr., whom she met at Lincoln Elementary School when they were 7 years old. God gifted her and Aaron three beautiful children: Aaron III, Rita Denise and Dennis Keith. Their lives revolved around their children. They wanted to be able to provide them with everything possible to enjoy their lives and receive an education. The location of the home that they built was based on the convenience for them to attend Lincoln School and Inkster High School via of Beech Street. Theola’s daily prayer was to be able to live to raise her children until they could provide for themselves. Although, through her journey she received numerous awards, recognitions and plaques, her primary focus was her children. She always wanted the best for them. They grew up to be god-fearing, educated, law-abiding citizens. God answered her prayers. He granted her the privilege and the delight to see and enjoy grandchildren and great-grandchildren too. They were all precious to her. She enjoyed a special relationship with her son-in-law, Lloyd and daughter-in-law, Regina. Theola enjoyed and loved all of her beautiful nieces and nephews. She prayed daily for all of her family members asking that the Lord would protect and guide them. Theola always gave love to her entire family in any way she could. For over twenty years, Theola was blessed and honored to care for her elderly mother. Her husband Aaron also became ill and she became his caregiver during the same time. After the passing of her mother the Lord, placed it upon her heart to write a book, dedicated to her mother. The book’s purpose was to encourage caregivers. “The Caregiver’s Companion” was published in 2000 by Proctor Publications. She was the primary caregiver for her husband Aaron Jr. for over 38 years until his death in 2014 after 66 years of marriage. ~Her World of Work~ On Theola’s journey, her first job at the age of 13 was for the Inkster School District during summer school at Carver School. She assisted with the serving of lunch for the students making twenty five cents a day. After graduating from high school, Mr. Lafayette Allen Sr. hired her to work in his new grocery store in the Meat Department. She worked for Allen’s Super Market until the advent of Civil Service in Wayne County in 1948. Scholarships were not available for minority graduates if the family could not afford college. With the advent of Civil Service in Wayne County in the mid 1940’s, many African Americans took the Civil Service Exams offered for employment opportunities. Theola took the exam with hundreds of others and passed with a 91.3 score. When she and other African Americans passed the written exams, it broke the color barrier at Wayne County General Hospital. They were among the first African Americans to gain employment at Wayne County General Hospital, also known as Eloise Hospital. The introduction of the exams stopped the segregated hiring practices at the County Hospital. She worked in several classifications: Hospital Attendant; Licensed Attendant Nurse II; and Ward Supervisor, for twenty-five years in the Psychiatric Division, developing many friendships that spanned decades. In the late seventies, the Wayne County Intermediate School District and the County of Wayne, formed a partnership. The purpose: introduce High School students to the world of work. Theola was selected by her supervisor to train and supervise the students in the Filing Division of the Billing Department. It was truly a “labor of love.” She enjoyed the assignment and the students. A strong bond of friendships developed that existed until her death. She retired in 1981 after 33 years of dedicated service. Her deep commitment to fair and equal treatment prompted her to serve in several positions for Local 25 Council 25 AFSCME and was an active member. For many years she served as the Chief Grievance Writer on behalf of union members that resulted in the reversal of unfair practices implemented by the hospital administration. In addition, she served as Building Steward, Special Conference Member, Good and Welfare Committee and Nursing Office Liaison. During her employment, a group of employees joined together to form a committee named “JUST FRIENDS.” The purpose was to provide moral and financial support when needed. The members were there for each other in “good” times and “sad” times. After retiring the group remained together until the membership dwindled, due to the passing of the members. Theola served as the Secretary and the Co-Coordinator until the group was disbanded. She was one of three members still living in recent years. While on her journey, Theola made, cultivated and maintained many friendships at work as well as in the community. On her 50th Birthday her co-worker surprised her with a Birthday Party. When she retired she was given two (2) retirement parties. On her 80th birthday, her friend Renee’ Gates surprised her with a party which was attended by many church members. On her 86th birthday, her friend Ruth Williams, and the 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee, surprised her with a party at her home. The pre-scheduled committee meeting served as the ingenious cover for the gathering. ~A Love for Education~ At the age of 55, after retiring, Theola decided to fulfill a life-long dream to attend college. She enrolled on a part-time basis in the Gerontology Program at Madonna University in Livonia, Michigan. She earned a 30 Hour Certificate in Gerontology, an Associate Degree in Gerontology; a Special Certificate in Activity Therapy for the Elderly, and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Gerontology with a minor degree in Journalism and Public Relations. She graduated with high honors in 1990, after having earned a 3.8 GPA. She was inducted into the Kappa Gamma Pi Sorority, a prestigious Catholic Scholastic group. In 1989 she was presented the St. Catherine Medal by the faculty of Madonna University- the sole winner of the distinguished scholastic honor. An avid writer she completed writing courses at Schoolcraft College and the University of Michigan Dearborn campus. The Lord Almighty, the creator of mankind, the giver of life, has a plan for every person that he created. His plan for Theola included writing. Over the span of seven decades plus, she responded to requests for poems, tributes, helping to write obituaries, (in some cases printing them at no cost whenever needed), resolutions, letters of recommendations, and proof-reading materials for college bound students. In 1997 the Cathedral Choir of Smith Chapel A.M.E. Church; presented a play: “THE WOMANLESS WEDDING” written and directed by Theola Jones. In 2009 for the 85th Church Anniversary, she wrote and directed a skit entitled: “APPOINTED”. In 2010, she compiled a history of the church, entitled: “PRECIOUS MEMORIES” printed and published by B&D Graphic Design+ Pam. In 1995, a special request was made by Inkster Mayor Hilliard L. Hampton, Jr. to the Editor of the Inkster Ledger Star to appointed Theola and the late educator, Maude Reid and Karen Williams as Special Writers for a new section en titled: “INKSTER GOODNEWS”. This section of the paper would cover the many cultural and social events occurring in the city. Her interest in writing and books led her to volunteer as a Tutor for the Inkster Literacy Council. She was a member of the Detroit Black Writers Guild and she participated in a Poetry Reading Event in 1994 held at the Wayne State University Hilberry Theatre. She received a heart-warming reception for the reading of her poem, “IMAGES” that depicted the life of slaves on southern plantations. The poem was published in the Detroit Black Writers Guild Anthology. ~Her Beloved House of Worship~ Smith Chapel A.M.E. Church Raised in a Christian home, her early years were influenced greatly by her mother and step-father Spencer McKay. Because of her parents influence she developed a relationship with the Lord. Theola joined Smith Chapel A.M.E. Church at the age of 7. She dearly loved her church, the members and the pastors. She rendered a faithful, devoted service for many years. For over forty years, she served on the Steward Board under the pastorate of five pastors and retired as Steward Emeritus under the pastorate of Rev. Thomas Higginbotham. She chaired the Finance Committee and she authored the very first FINANCE COMMITTEE TRAINING MANUAL of Smith Chapel. At the request of Rev. Melvin D. Reed she coordinated the activities of the Senior Citizens Circle for twenty three years. It was the first group for senior citizens in the history of the local church as well as in the Fourth Episcopal District. For twenty-three years the organization was active visiting the sick and shut-in and hosting celebratory occasions that included seniors all over the metropolitan area. Rev. Reed submitted her name to be included in the first: Selected Registry of the African Methodist Episcopal published by the A.M.E. Church. As a youth, she served on the first Junior Usher Board, was a member of the Buds of Promise and the Children’s Choir. As a grownup she was a member of following: Benefactor & Tree of Life Committee Junior Choir Junior Usher Board Junior Missionary Group Cathedral Choir 25+years Inspirational Choir Action Committee Steward Board Emeritus Pastor's Steward Blood Donor’s Club Courtesy Club Public Relations Chair Finance Committee Chair Organizer Senior Citizen's Circle 2nd Generation Lifetime Member Charter Member Mother’s Club Mother of the Year Club As a Church fundraiser she wrote and directed the “Womanless Wedding”, as well as a skit: “Appointed”. In an effort to preserve the history of her beloved house of worship she compiled and created “Precious Memories” a pictorial history of the church. For several years she chaired the Focus Hope Food Program, the General Motors Food Program, Wayne County Food Program as well as the Federal FEMA Food Program. With the help of church volunteers food was distributed to the elderly and the low-income residents of the city. She championed the cause of those less fortunate all of her adult life. God’s plan for Theola also included serving, encouraging, organizing, supporting and lending a helping hand whenever and wherever there was a need. Her philosophy in life was very simple: “Share, give and help whenever you see the need and the Lord has provided the means for you to do so”. She was known for her honesty, forthrightness, loyalty and for standing alone, if necessary, for what she felt was right or when she thought an injustice had been committed. She was an advocate and supporter for the elderly, children and low-income. For five years she chaired a committee of church members, who delivered boxes of food to the residents on a monthly basis. The food was supplied by FOCUS HOPE. She was instrumental in the establishment of the FOCUS HOPE branch housed on Inkster Road in the City of Inkster. In the early days of FEMA (Federal Emergency Meal Assistance) the committee delivered fresh vegetables and meat donated by the General Motors Corporation. “A DEEP LOVE FOR THE CITY OF INKSTER” For over seven decades, Theola was an integral part of many civic and community groups. In 1987 Councilman Ernest Hendricks submitted her name to represent the City of Inkster as one of the 150 FIRST LADY OF MICHIGAN honorees at a ceremony held in Lansing Michigan. She was presented a proclamation by Mrs. Paula Blanchard, the wife of Governor James Blanchard. She served on and received the following accolades: NAACP YOUTH GROUP (13 yrs. Old) Inkster Literacy Council (Tutor) Inkster Charter Commission (elected) Inkster Summerfest Committee Inkster Friends of the Library Inkster Committee for Literacy (Tutor) Inkster Election Board Inkster Goodfellows Inkster Construction Board of Appeals (appt.) Inkster Head Start-Community Rep. Inkster Democratic Club Inkster RSVP Inkster Pioneers Inkster Missionary Group Inkster Festival Commission (appt). Inkster Commission On Aging (appt.) Inkster Advisory Board Inkster 50th Anniversary Committee Because Inkster Cares Inkster Citizens Who Care Memorial Day Parade Theme Winner 1988: “In Inkster The Spirit Still Lives” Inkster Chamber Of Commerce – Slogan Winner 2015: Inkster – “Loved – Invincible Proud” Key to the City of Inkster Lifetime Achievement Award 2019 by Mayor Byron Nolen She leaves behind to honor her memory: Sons: Aaron III, Dennis and wife Regina; daughter Rita and husband Lloyd Edsel; Grandchildren: Lloyd III, Tamara and husband Michael Sr., Tiffany, Arica and Stephanie; Great-Grandchildren: Micah, Michael Jr., Mackenzie, Jaden, Jaden, Octavia, Leasia, and Lloyd IV; Brother, Willie B. and wife Maggie; Brothers-in-law, Weaver Jones and wife Shirley and Robert Jones and his wife Ceneilla; Sisters-in-law, Marian Allen, Esther Brown, Sharon Austin and her husband Ulysses; Many beautiful nieces, nephews, cousins, special family friends: Sonya, Deloris and Chris; and many treasured faithful and loved friends. ~HER MESSAGES TO REMEMBER~ Trust Believe Have Faith in God Cultivate Maintain and nourish healthy friendships Respect Love Treasure Family and Friends Live each day as though it was your last day on earth Don’t Forget to PRAY ~LITERARY CONTRIBUTIONS~ BY-LINES & COLUMNS “REFLECTIONS” Smith Chapel A.M.E. Church Newsletter “BOUQUET OF ROSES” The Messenger INKSTER GOOD NEWS Inkster Ledger Star INKSTER NEWS Inkster Democratic Newspaper “SENIOR CORNER” Smith Chapel Chimes UP-DATE Smith Chapel Chimes Senior Citizen’s Newsletter Smith Chapel Chimes PUBLISHED: “Life What Is It? American Collegiate Press “Somewhere to Be” North American Press “Images” Detroit Black Writer’s Guild Anthology “The Caregiver’s Companion Proctor Publications LOVE World of Poetry Precious Memories B & D Graphic Design + PAM ~AFFILIATIONS~ Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Inkster Alumnae Chapter Sigma Pi Omega National Gerontology Academic Sorority Kappa Gamma Pi National Catholic Honor Society Gerontology Association Madonna University Multi-Cultural Society Madonna University Detroit Black Writer’s Guild YWCA Board of Directors Regional Advisory Board-Wayne County Flora & Booker Dozier Scholarship Fund Mayor Hilliard L. Hampton Jr. Youth Foundation Wayne Metropolitan Community Service Agency Out-Wayne County Head Start Program-Community Rep. Top Ladies of Distinction, Michigan Metro Chapter Khamalaw White Scholarship Fund Charmettes Social Club Fred Hart Genealogical Society Wayne County Retirees Club Local 38 AFSCME ~HONORS~ Distinguished Service Award “Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Award” Council 25 AFSCME Contributions to the Civil Rights Movement & Humanity Wayne County General Hospital Local 25 AFSCME HONORS: MADONNA UNIVERSITY – Sister Mary Francilene - President St. Catherine Medal – Superior Scholastic Achievement Scholarship Award-Sigma Pi Omega National Gerontology Academic & Professional Society Scholastic All American Collegiate Award – Professor Karen Ross
~The Life Journey of Theola McKay Jones~ The life journey of Theola Jones began on February 2, 1929 at 10:30 a.m., when she was born in the home of her paternal grandmother Sophie Jackson in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Her birth parents, Velma Vandalia... View Obituary & Service Information
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