On August 1, 2016, family and friends paid their respects and said goodbye to retired city educator, Jesola E. Jones, 75 years young at a Mass of Christian Burial at her church, the New All Saints Catholic Church in Baltimore. After a lengthy illness, she died peacefully surrounded by her family on July 27, 2016 at Stella Maris in Timonium.
During the family hour, JC Shay, a cousin of her husband, Ralph read her obituary. Her sisters, Drs Frankie E. Martin and Zola E. Boone gave reflections of her life as a young child growing up in Grambling, Louisiana and recited a poem in her honor. This was followed by Celebration services by the Links, Incorporated and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority of which she was a member.
The Mass of Christian Burial was offered by Father Raymond Harris, Jr., from Holy Family Parish, Randallstown, MD. Jesola’s grandsons Elijah and Noah Jones (Ralph) read the First Reading, Isaiah 25:6-9, and the Second Reading, 1 Corinthians 13 were read by grandson’s Connor and Christian Jones (Ernest). Eucharistic gifts were offered by nieces, Tyrene Gibson, Aya Taylor and Monica Allen. The Communion Meditation Hymn, “Amazing Grace” was played on the piano by grandson Connor Jones (Ernest). After communion, very personal family remarks were given by Jesola’s three sons, Warren, Ernest and Ralph Jones.
Growing up in Grambling, Louisiana, the value of education was instilled in her at a young age by her parents who were both educators and graduates from Southern University and the University of Michigan. Her father was a renowned principal in Wisner, Louisiana and her beautiful mother (a former Miss Southern University) was associate professor at Grambling State (College) University.
Jesola was a devout Catholic and began her bond with Catholicism at St Benedict de Moor Catholic Church in Grambling where she would make her First Holy Communion, Confirmation and the sacrament of marriage to the love of her life, Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, Jr. in a memorable ceremony in 1961.
Jesola was born on April 21, 1941 in Wisner, Louisiana to Jesse and Zola Amond Ernest. The middle daughter of loving parents, she and her sisters, Zola the eldest and Frankie the youngest moved with her parents to the town of Grambling, Louisiana, home of Grambling State (College) University in 1947. She received her early childhood education from Grambling elementary, middle and high school graduating in 1958. She matriculated at the State University of Iowa in Iowa City and earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Drama in 1962. Jesola pursued further studies at Louisiana Tech in Ruston, Louisiana earning a Master’s degree in Counseling in 1965. She was eager to start work after moving to Baltimore in 1962 and entered the Baltimore City Public School system as a teacher at Calverton Jr. High School and went on to serve as counselor, assistant principal at a number of city schools and later was named principal at one of the largest middle schools, Pimlico Middle where she remained until retirement in 1994. Throughout her career in education, she impacted people with her serious but compassionate style, her pursuit for excellence in children’s education success and her genuine and pronounced leadership ability. She left an indelible impression on those she worked with and served.
Although Jesola had a passion for education, she was a devoted wife and mother. Her husband, Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, Jr’s life ended abruptly in 1989 from a heart attack. Prior to his death they celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary at a fabulous party at the University of Baltimore Law School where Ralph was an administrator of a thriving graduate program. During Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke’s tenure, he tapped Dr. Jones to join his administration and was subsequently appointed as Director of Recreation and Parks. Jesola was delighted with his appointment and enjoyed interacting frequently with Recreation and Parks staff.
Jesola was an exceptional mother to three fine sons, Ralph Eldridge, Ernest Emerson, and Warren Waldo who all share a part of Ralph’s name because Jesola felt that they together added up to the totality of her husband Ralph. Her overarching commitment was to her family and her desire to love, nurture, guide, and enjoy all the pleasures that a family brings. Her strength and grace allowed her to endure both the pains and joys of life.
Although Jesola retired from her profession in the Baltimore City Public School System, she however did not retire from life. She enjoyed regular luncheons with her two sisters, Zola and Frankie who had also located to Baltimore and raised their families. She enjoyed socializing with friends, working with members of the retired teachers association and worked arduously to support the Dr. Ralph W.E. Jones scholarship that she established at Morgan State University. Two of her favorite activities were attending the Christmas Choir Concert and Homecoming at Morgan. She also kept up with the “goings on” at Grambling State University where her husband’s father served as president for 32+ years.
While Jesola was in college she was initiated into the Psi Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority affiliated with Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa because there was no chapter at the time at the State University of Iowa. After moving to Baltimore she was an active member of the Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Sorority. She loved to attend local chapter meetings and attended many national conventions. A 1985 Charter member of the Harbor City (Maryland) Chapter of the Links Incorporated, she served as first vice president and second chapter president. She also was a member of the Coronas and Monumental City Friends. Jesola was very much involved in the New All Saints Church, participating in bible study, serving on the food pantry committee and attending 4:00pm mass on Saturday where she enjoyed her pastor, Father Donald Sterling. Jesola also enjoyed playing Sudoku and traveling throughout the world. She was a staunch fan of both the Orioles and the Ravens.
Jesola is survived by her sons and daughters-in-law, Ralph Eldridge and Nicole, Ernest Emerson and Ann Marie, Warren Waldo and Tamera; grandson, Noah and Elijah (Ralph) and Christian and Connor (Ernest) sisters, Zola Ernest Boone and Frankie Ernest Martin and a host of nephews, nieces, cousins, and lifelong friends.