Shirley Jones, former State Rep, passes away
May 6, 2016
Shirley Jones.

Shirley Jones.

Shirley Marie Jones, a former longtime Near West Side State Representative, passed away on March 20 at age 76.

Born in Chicago on Nov. 9, 1939, to Elisha and Bessie Jones, she was one of eight brothers and sisters. Raised in the ABLA Homes on the Near West Side, she attended Smyth Elementary School, Cregier Vocational High School, Crane High School, and George Williams College.

According to her nephew, Mickey Reynolds, “Shirley’s athleticism as a young lady molded her career. She was an exceptional volleyball player, avid golfer, bowler, and fan of all sports.”

She chose a career in the Chicago Park District and was a physical education instructor at several parks. She rose in the ranks to become a park supervisor, area supervisor, and a park district administrator in a career that lasted 30 years.

A precinct worker in the old 1st Ward, then located on the Near West Side, Ms. Jones ran for 6th District State Representative in 1988, defeating incumbent Douglass Huff in the Democratic primary and going on to win the general election.

In the Illinois General Assembly, Rep. Jones championed legislation concerning seniors, public aid, and consumer rights. She chaired the House Public Utilities Committee. She served on the boards of directors of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the National Organization of Black Elected Women, and the Red Hatters.

After her retirement in 2003 after several terms as a State Rep, she worked for Commonwealth Edison. Ms. Jones also helped out not-for-profit organizations such as Cathedral Shelter, Duncan YMCA, and the Campaign for a Drug Free West Side.

At various times, Ms. Jones attended New Light Missionary Baptist Church, Holy Family Parish, St. Sabina Parish, and the Apostolic Church of God.

“Shirley’s grandchildren had a very special place in her heart,” Reynolds said. “She was affectionately called ‘Aunt Shirley’ not only by her own nieces and nephews but also by their friends and their friends’ offspring as well.

“Shirley loved her family more than anything,” he continued. “She coordinated most of the holiday parties, trips, impromptu gatherings, and bid whist [a card game] nights for her family and friends until her illness would no longer allow.”

She was preceded in death by her son, Darryl, and her siblings Alberta, Roberta, Earskin, and Allen. Ms. Jones is survived by her husband, Harold Neal; daughter Lakeisha Jones; sisters Gladys (Willie), Irene, and Betty (Leonard); brother Phillip; grandchildren Darryl, Nick, Nakia, Jarrett, Brittany, Darnesha, and Aianna; goddaughter Shonnie; stepdaughter Telecia; sister-in-law Peggy; brother-in-law Lamont; and many nieces, nephews, and other relatives. Her funeral was held April 1 at the Apostolic Church of God.

– William S. Bike