Reflections of the Life of Dolores Jones
On August 26, 1936 – a Wednesday – Dolores was born in Minter, Alabama to the late Millie Calhoun and Willie Andrews. As with every newborn in the tiny county community, her birth would be chronicled in the tattered family bible and celebrated in the rural Dallas County farming community. As God called it to be, on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 our merciful Father saw how she struggled in not being able to care for herself, sent down His angels to carry her home.
During her very early years in the Deep South, she shared a life of joys and challenges, highs and lows during some of the region’s most difficult times – economically, socially and politically. Growing up, she would be shuttled between different relatives in Minter, Selma, Pensacola and Panama City, Florida attending schools.
It was not easy, but Dolores knew at a very young age, that when life handed out lemons, you quickly figured out how to make lemonade. As she reached adulthood, she ended up in New York. There, she met her soon-to-be husband, an ambitious young man named Ray A. Jones, a native of Louisiana and a military vet who had served honorably in the Korean War, now looking to find his fortunes in the Big Apple. Later, with their two children, Susan Diane and Ray Alfred Jr., they continued to push for financial security for the family. Ray Sr. eventually landed a position in 1959 as a firefighter with the New York City Fire Department, where he retired as Lieutenant in October 1986.
Dolores tried her hand as a hair stylist, a restaurateur, but most of all, she concentrated on being a mother to Susan Diane and little Ray. She later found stable employment at the IBM manufacturing facility that had opened in 1968 in Brooklyn’s Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood. When IBM moved to its brand-new facility at Nostrand and DeKalb in 1979, she moved with it, working as a quality control inspector.
For Dolores, New York finally brought a well-rounded, well-earned life free of financial worries and filled with the material things like grand parties and exotic travels – the good life. Later on, there would be trips to dozen of places around the United States and International travel to Europe and cruises to just about every Caribbean Island. She was also a member of the Eastern Stars National Masonic Charity & Relief Department in Brooklyn, NY.
She was big on family, friends, food and her faith. She never forgot her Alabama and Florida roots and often returning south, loaded with clothing, presents and other goodies to help less fortunate relatives. She often opened her doors and arms to prepare steppingstones for other relatives trying to escape the grinding poverty of the south for more opportunities up north. Her Brooklyn homes –on Bristol St., Hart St., Osbourne St., St. Johns Pl. and Hendrix St. – always became a family hub, especially on holidays. Home for her was a gathering place that served up heaping helpings of southern cuisine.
There was one time, Ray came home to find family and friends gathered in the backyard chowing down on grilled Porterhouse steaks. We were sure this wasn’t quite how he wanted to see his hard-earned dollars spent. We can hear him shouting: “Dolores!”
She worked at IBM for almost 20years before retiring in the mid-1980’s and giving up New York’s brutal winters for South Florida’s sunny climate. She moved there in 1987 and enjoyed her retirement while volunteering with Meals on Wheels and served as an active member of Lauderhill Women’s Club and other community agencies. In February 2003, Dolores was certified as a Home Health Aide and worked part time with various clients.
Dolores would be the first to say that, although she grew up in a Christian environment, she got very serious about her faith after moving to South Florida. She joined New Mt. Olive Baptist Church and became active in several church ministries; most notably was the Usher Board.
Later, Ray joined her in Florida and in 2006, they left South Florida and moved to the Villages, a well-heeled retirement community in Central Florida north of Orlando that would hold a party in its Town Square every day of the week. Ever stylish and classy, she quickly immersed herself in the culture. She became active in the African American Club and the Red Hatters, a group of spirited “senior” ladies who wore the loudest of reds and purples and enjoyed life to the fullest through their shenanigans!
Never one to forget her faith, she promptly joined New Covenant Baptist Church in Ocala, where she remained for the next decade. Life had its ups and downs in the Villages, mostly up. Her lifestyle flourished in the community where almost everyone had a golf cart in the colors of their favorite NFL team or something else of significance. Hers was red and purple, the colors of the Red Hatters.
It was in the Villages that Ray, her husband and companion of more than 60 years, died on October 29, 2009.
In 2015, she moved back to Fort Lauderdale to be closer to family and friend and of course, her beloved New Mt. Olive Baptist Church, which welcomed her back with open arms. She promptly re-engaged, becoming an usher and active participant in church ministries.
As she aged, the aches and ailments came, but they were not for public consumption. She never wanted her life to become a public pity party.
Her most important contribution is her children, grands and great-grand little Ariella. She was especially proud of her role in shaping their future and pushing them to excel.
Dolores had many challenges in her 85 years, but she would face them all head on and headstrong. She loved her family and friends dearly but didn’t mind telling you exactly what she thought. And, in living her life, she had no intentions of ever going backward, over ground already treaded. Naw it’s Too painful! Going forward was the only vision she had and woe to anyone who got in her way or tried to stop her. She always had style and spunk to spare.
In 2018, noticing her health declining swiftly and her being diagnosed with Vascular Dementia, her children brought her back up to New York to care for her until the Lord called her Home.
Dolores leaves to cherish her love and memory is her daughter, Susan Diane White; Son, Ray Alfred Jones Jr.; Daughter in love, Miko Jones; Five Grandchildren, Andre T. White (Tosha), Mariama Jones, Micah Jones, Naomi Jones, Ray Jones III; Great granddaughter Ariella White; Brother-in-law, Benjamin Jones (Odell); Sister-in-law Carolyn Jones: and Brother-in-law Frank Rowser, Sr. Also left to cherish her memory is a loving devoted Niece like-daughter, Patricia Tabois (Owen) of Plantation Florida. And a host of other loving nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
We Thank God for the Life of this Woman Who Has Touched The Lives of So Many. She Will Never Be Forgotten.