Helen M. Jones

May 19, 2012|By JANET HEIM |
  • Helen "Sally" Jones is shown in this 2004 photograph.
Submitted photo

Helen was the name given to her by her parents, but Sally was the name by which she introduced herself to her future husband.

Helen Devilbiss, who was born in Hanover, Pa., and raised in Westminster, Md., met Ellis Jones at Rainbow Roller Rink near Taneytown, Md., and when she asked him his name, he said “Jones.” She thought he was being smart, so when asked in return, she said her name was Sally.

From that time on, that’s the name she went by.

“She was a Sally,” daughter Cynthia “Cindy” Murray of Hagerstown said.

“I agree with that,” said oldest son Steven “Steve” Jones of Louisville, Ky. 

Sally and Ellis married in 1944 and spent the next 56 years together. Cindy said her mother never really got over Ellis’ death in 2000, but forged ahead.

Son Gene Jones of Crofton, Md. ,summed up his mother’s philosophy in an email: “Hard work is expected ... Make the most of yourself ... Don’t spend your hard-earned money frivolously. Be a loving and close family ... Take on responsibility ... Play games, have fun and laugh — you deserve it.”

The Joneses moved to Hagerstown in the late 1940s when Ellis got a job with Fairchild, where he worked until he retired.

The couple had a house built on Dual Highway. Their three children were raised there and graduated from South Hagerstown High School.

There are four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

In the mid-1960s, the family moved up the street to a bigger house they built on a one-acre lot on Dual Highway near where the Red Horse Restaurant used to be and where Sally lived out her life. The larger lot allowed for a generous garden, which Sally and Ellis lovingly tended.

“Corn on the cob and tomatoes — they’re our favorite things out of the garden. I could still make a meal out of them,” Steve said.

Last year, Steve said, he and his mother prepared 100 ears of corn for freezing for Sally to use throughout the year.  

Sally was raised with a strong work ethic and passed that on to her family. She did secretarial work after high school and early in her marriage, but stayed home with the children until Cindy, who was the youngest, went to school.

At that point, she worked at Fort Detrick and Fort Ritchie, then retired but worked part time for two local dermatologists into her 80s.

“She was bored. It gave her a function, gave her a reason to get up,” Cindy said of Sally’s part-time work.

“It was the very traditional, hard-working ethic of her generation. She didn’t sit still very much and was very frugal,” Steve said.

Sally was renowned for her chore lists and the neverending “to do” lists that kept her organized. Granddaughter Amy Miller of Hagerstown said Josh Miller, who became her husband, had to “work for his meal” the first time he was invited for a Jones family get-together.

Sally’s list-making extended to the preparation of binders for her three children several years ago that provided, down to the last detail, her funeral plans. From the prepaid funeral home arrangements to favorite hymns and Bible verses to the obituary to a list of financial accounts, Sally wanted to make it as easy as possible on her family.

As the Jones children got older, Sally and Ellis decided they wanted to start traveling. Knowing they couldn’t afford motels for extended trips, they bought a pop-up camper. That camper and the others that followed as they upgraded took the family north, south, east and west.

As the grandchildren came along, they went on camping trips with their grandparents. Granddaughter Denise Kappler of Arlington, Va., wrote in an email that camping trips meant watching her grandmother “make new friends wherever she went.”

“Both of ’em never met a stranger,” Steve said of his parents.

There were hikes in the great outdoors and whether it was camping with the family or at family gatherings, card games were on the list for entertainment.

Sally and Ellis were proud to have made it to all 50 states. Sally had a fondness for the national parks, especially Bryce Canyon and Zion, as well as waterfalls. 

Her love for the outdoors went beyond gardening and camping. Another proud accomplishment was hiking all 187 miles of the C&O Canal, in sections, in her later years.

“Grandma could run circles around me, even in her 80s. She had so many friends and social events to attend, it was difficult to keep track of her,” Amy wrote.

Numerous family members sent emails recounting heartfelt memories of Sally and laughable moments with family and friends. Family came first, always with Sally’s generous hospitality at the forefront.

“I have learned from her how wonderful it is to have a comfortable, welcoming home that people want to stop by and visit with you,” Denise wrote.

Denise’s husband, Burke Kappler, was taken by the way Sally focused on people.

“Sally was one of the best conversationalists I ever met ... when you were talking one-on-one, you felt as though you had her full attention and nothing else was important,” he wrote in an email.

Growing up during the Depression, Sally learned the value of money and hard work. She could make fun out of just about anything, whether it was singing on long car rides, going out for ice cream or adding the element of surprise to many occasions.

At Christmas, there might be clues for a scavenger hunt or to help you guess what was in a package. She gave gifts for no reason and for her 87th birthday last August, Sally gave gifts to those who came to celebrate with her, Steve said. 

 Church was an important part of the Jones’ life. Sally was a longtime member at Christ’s Reformed Church in Hagerstown, serving as a deacon and on committees.

Gene wrote that his mother was outspoken and almost always got her way. He said had she been born in another era, his mother would have been a great spokesperson for the women’s liberation movement or a successful political activist.

Her strength of will helped her through the ups and downs of more than eight decades of life and some health issues. In 1987, Sally was diagnosed with breast cancer.

After a single mastectomy, she got a clean bill of health until 2005, when the cancer returned. Sally never had chemotherapy, but had radiation treatments and took medication to stave off the disease.

She was in fairly good health until three years ago, but in the past year, the treatments stopped working. When she lost the use of her left arm in late February, hospice was called in.

“It was tough for her to accept outside help. She didn’t want to burden her children,” Cindy said. 

Sally’s three children had gathered to take turns helping care for her and say their final goodbyes. As much as she wanted them by her side, they think she waited to die until they left to rest and Denise was keeping watch.

“I’ll never forget coming to the realization one day that no matter how many times I come back home to visit my family, I always walked away with knowledge I could use ... Yes, I’m one lucky guy. I could not have asked for a better set of parents, brother and sister,” Gene wrote. 

Editor’s note:  Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail runs “A Life Remembered.” Each story in this continuing series takes a look back — through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others — at a member of the community who died recently. Today’s “A Life Remembered”  is about Helen M. Jones who died May 12 at the age of 87. Her obituary was published in the May 15 edition of The Herald-Mail.

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