Elizabeth Israel Jones

Date of Birth

June 7th, 2017

Date of Death

January 22nd, 2017

Memorial Meeting

Santa Cruz Monthly Meeting

Minute

Elizabeth Israel Jones was the youngest of three children of Anna Doan Stephens and Dr. Walter Clarence Stephens -- both practicing Quakers with deep family roots reaching back many generations, with involvements in the Underground Railroad and the nineteenth-century abolition movement.  One of her ancestors had become convinced as a Friend by George Fox. Her father, a physician, served with the first overseas project of the American Friends Service Committee, on the front lines of the influenza epidemic in France and Poland during 1919 and 1920.  Elizabeth always favored the traditional friends meeting over the preacher-centered programmed Friends church.

Elizabeth was born June 7, 1917, in Muncie, Indiana. When she was 11 years old her family moved to Pasadena, California.  Her family attended a Wilburite Friends Church, but her best friend attended Orange Grove Meeting, to which Elizabeth was more attracted. She attended her last two years of high school at Westtown Friends School in Pennsylvania, where she claimed to have almost failed a course in Quakerism and the Bible. One of her close friends there was  Rachel Pickett, the daughter of Clarence Pickett, executive secretary of AFSC. 

Later she attended colleges at Pasadena Junior College, Oberlin, and UC Berkeley, where she graduated with a degree in early childhood development. At Berkeley, Elizabeth lived in International House, where she met her first husband, Marion S. Israel.  Elizabeth and Marion's relationship was opposed by both their families, because Marion was Jewish.  After they married shortly before the outset of the Second World War, both families became reconciled to their union.  Their children, Carolyn and Peter, were raised in Los Angeles, where Marion worked as an aeronautics engineer, at one point being questioned by the FBI because he was a communist. As a young mother in the early and mid-1950s, Elizabeth established and directed Crestwood Hills cooperative nursery school in a semi-cooperative housing community in which she and Marion were active members and residents in West Los Angeles. Elizabeth and Marion relocated to Santa Clara County in 1963, where they lived until Marion’s death in 1973.  Following this, she directed a nursery school in Fremont and began attending San Jose Friends Meeting, where  she met and married her second husband,  Steve Jones.

Elizabeth and Steve drove their camper across the United States, hiking and camping in Yosemite and many other state and national parks. During the decades of their marriage Elizabeth and Steve were actively involved in Quaker work, especially peace, cooperative and environmental movements.  They were deeply inspired by Marshall Massey's talk on the environment at PYM in 1985, and became dedicated to Friends in Unity with Nature, joining the Earthquakers and becoming involved in the beginnings of Monan's Rill in Santa Rosa, although, in the end, they did not join that community,

Moving instead to Santa Cruz, Elizabeth and Steve were active members of the South County and Santa Cruz Friends Meetings; they participated in demonstrations protesting activities at the nuclear test site in Nevada; Elizabeth served on the Board of John Woolman School, and they often travelled to its work-weekends in Grass Valley, California; they were involved in the organization of the Ben Lomond Quaker Center Association near Santa Cruz, and of Friends House, a Quaker retirement community in Santa Rosa, California, where they eventually relocated.

Elizabeth was an enthusiastic follower of Scott and Helen Nearing's approach to a self-supportive lifestyle, and to death, in Living the Good Life and Loving and Leaving the Good Life. Although in her '90s Elizabeth’s memory became increasingly elusive, she was largely contented, in good health, and relatively free of medical needs or physical limitations, until she slowly but surely voluntarily reduced her food intake at age 99 & 1/2. Elizabeth died peacefully on January 22, 2017, at the age of 99, in her sleep, in a manner wholly consistent with her long-expressed beliefs and wishes.