Ward 8 leaders and residents say the late Theresa Howe Jones was a force for good in the ward and had a motherly touch. Jones, 84, the advisory neighborhood commissioner for single-member district 8D07 in Ward, 8 died July 10, according to 8D Chairperson Olivia Henderson.
Theresa Jones, a political and civic leader in Ward 8, recently passed away. (Courtesy Photo)
D.C. Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8) praised Jones for her work and advocacy. “I was both shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden passing of a giant in Ward 8, the late Theresa Howe Jones,” White said in a statement. “I have known Mrs. Jones for most of my life and considered her to be a mentor and friend. As I got older and involved in making a difference in our community, I also began to recognize and appreciate Mrs. Jones as a colleague and confidant.”
White, elected to the council in November 2016, said Jones was “always fair and balanced in her counsel to me” and could be “quite critical.”
“However, her criticism was always given from a heart of love, compassion. and dedication to improving the plight of all Ward 8 residents,” the council member said.
Jones was a lifelong District resident and worked as the executive director of Chase Incorporated and Liaison at the United Planning Organization and was employed at the Southeast Neighborhood House. She served on boards such as the Anacostia Economic Development Corporation and the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum, and was active with the United Black Fund. Jones was elected as the commissioner for 8D07 from 2004-2008 and from 2012 until her passing.
Former D.C. Council member Sandy Allen, who served on the District’s legislative body from 1996-2005, told the AFRO Allen was “a Ward 8 pioneer.”
“She was a mother to everybody,” Allen said. “I knew her when I was a little girl and she and my mother would work in the community. She was strong in her commitment to Ward 8 and the city.”
Allen said that Jones was helpful to her constituents and residents of the ward, and wouldn’t hesitate to help people in need. “If you needed a bag of food, she could tell you where to go to get that,” she said. “She was a rock and will truly be missed.”
The executive committee of the Ward 8 Democrats, one of the District’s leading political clubs, in a statement, extended its condolences to the family and colleagues of Jones. “A former delegate to the Democratic National Convention, Mrs. Jones was instrumental in drafting the Ward 8 Democrats bylaws and securing our charter from the D.C. Democratic State Committee,” the statement said. “Her passion for D.C. statehood, having served as a delegate to the DC Statehood Constitutional meeting in 1982, led to D.C. voting rights being included in the Ward 8 Democrats platform since the beginning, and it is a legacy that we are proud of today. And just two years ago, we were proud to honor and recognize her outstanding legacy by bestowing her with a lifetime achievement award.”
Charles Wilson, president of the Ward 8 Democrats, praised Jones as having “accomplished so much and mentored many people.”
“Even if you didn’t ask for advice, she was going to give it anyway,” Wilson said in a statement. “She was such a presence in Ward 8 and her passing creates a void that will be missed.”
Jones’s demise creates a vacancy in her single-member district. District law states that the 8D commission must declare the vacancy in an official manner and the D.C. Board of Elections would set up a date for petitions to fill Jones’s position in a special election.
District law states that a special election will take place if there are two or more candidates for the 8D07 position. If there is only one candidate and that person has met all of the requirements of being a commissioner for 8D07, then they will be appointed to the position by the 8D commission and would serve until January 2019.
On July 20, Jones’s body will be viewed from 6-9 p.m. at the Frazier Mason Memorial Funeral Homes, Good Hope Road in S.E. and on July 21 until 11 a.m. at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church, Morris Road, S.E. The service will start at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Perpetual Help.
D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large) confirmed to the AFRO that she will be attending the funeral. Bonds said she sent a condolence letter to the Jones family.
“TJ was the best,” Arrington Dixon, former chairman of the D.C. Council, told the AFRO. “She will be missed but her presence and legacy in the community will always be felt and appreciated. My sympathies to her family.”