Posted on May 17, 2023 Ruth M. Jones ABFMS – India & Thailand alumna, called home

Ruth M. Jones, American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (ABFMS) alumna, passed to be with her Lord and Savior on May 4, 2023, Pasadena, California.  Ruth was 97 years old.  She was born on March 15, 1926, in Coffeyville, Kansas, the third child of James W. Hannan and Maudie Powell Hannan.

Though born in Kansas, Ruth grew up in Pueblo, Colorado.  The church and its program meant much to Ruth, as her brother died when she was young.  Both Ruth and her sister were very active in their local church, in state work, in summer camps, and in Christian Center work.  Ruth wrote about that time; “It meant the difference from darkness to light for us and we took our Christian life and joy with utmost seriousness.”  While still in high school, both Ruth and her sister Helen, committed their lives to missionary service.  After high school, Ruth followed her sister to Mary Hardin Baylor, a Baptist College in Texas. At the end of a year, Ruth started nurses’ training in at the Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis and joined the U.S. Cadet Nursing program.  While in St. Louis, she stated that her attendance at the Third Baptist Church “was one of the highlights of my Christian life.  There were always challenges for us, to consider what we would do with our lives.”

Her first assignment was as a public health nurse at a polio clinic in Texas, on the Mexican Border. She then worked in St. Louis and then at the Children’s Hospital in Denver.  While in Denver, she was active in the local church, the Christian Center, summer camp nursing, and state BYF activities.  It was at a summer camp that she decided to go back to school, enrolling at Berkeley Baptist Divinity School, where she studied Christian Education.  After a year there, she transferred to the University of California for her BSc in Nursing Education.  She was considering working with the World Health Organization, when she met Cornelius (Neil) Jones, at a college group of the First Baptist Church in Berkeley.  It was there that they both mentioned a heart for foreign service.  Ruth and Neil were married on June 8, 1956, and in March 1957 they applied for missionary service with the ABFMS.

Ruth and Neil were appointed as missionaries of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society (also known as International Ministries) on May 27, 1957, with designation to India.  Ruth and Neil welcomed their first daughter, Grace, in November 1957 and in October 1958, they sailed for India.

They established a new home in Guwahati, Assam, where the headquarters of Council of Baptist Churches of North East India (CBCNEI) was located. Ruth took language lessons and did some part-time work teaching nursing at the mission hospital.  They added two more daughters to the family, Barbara in 1959 and Judy in 1962.  Ruth worked with the CBCNEI, helping to develop Christian Literature programs for women and getting them translated into the various languages spoken in the region. She also kept busy with three daughters, including teaching them using the Calvert Correspondence Course.  Ruth was one of the founders of Nichols English School (Nichols Higher Secondary School).      It was felt that there was a need for a quality English medium school in Guwahati. The first students were missionary children, those of the staff in the CBCNEI and the local Baptist Church.  The school was open to all children.  Ruth was the first Superintendent of the school responsible for the curriculum development, setting up the first school library, and making the curtains – a different appliqued nursery rhyme – in each classroom. She also designed the first uniforms, choosing something easy to wash and wear.  Later she worked as a full-time school advisor and substitute teacher.  Nichols Higher Secondary School continues till today.

In 1972, they were unable to return to North East India due to the Indian Government restrictions and were transferred to Thailand.  Ruth assisted as hostess at the Bangkok Christian Guesthouse when they first moved there.  Later, she taught English, was a visiting school nurse for the Christian school at Mahachi, and worked with a children’s care center for handicapped children.  She also served as the editor of the Thailand Tatler, a bi-monthly mission (not just Baptist) news publication.  Ruth and Neil were very involved at the International Church in Bangkok.  Ruth was also active in the American Women’s Club with the American Embassy and assisted in projects supporting Thai tribal women – using handicraft as a way to earn money.  She served as a nurse in several refugee camps, towards the end of the Vietnam War. As in India, Ruth often served as hostess to the many travelers and workers who came through Bangkok.

The Joneses returned to the United States in July 1980.  Neil began working at the Valley Forge office as an Estate Planner, and then eventually as the Treasurer of IM.  Ruth was able to return to work in nursing full time, first in South Jersey then in the Philadelphia area where they eventually settled in Eagleville, PA. in 1984. While in PA, Ruth and Neil joined the Lower Providence Baptist Church in Eagleville.  Ruth was very active in the Missions and American Baptist Women’s groups and enjoyed singing in the choir at the church.  She was also involved in several community service programs.  In 1996 she retired from nursing, although continued being active at her church.

In 2021, due to Ruth’s ill health, it was felt best to move to Monrovia, California where all three daughters were able to assist in her care.  An added bonus was that two of three of Ruth’s and Neil’s grandchildren lived nearby.  They became members of The First Baptist Church Monrovia-Arcadia on their arrival and enjoyed attending services there and to getting acquainted with the congregants.  They also appreciated getting together with former colleagues from India and Thailand – many who have settled either at Pilgrim Place in Claremont or Atherton in Alhambra.

As Neil said, “We started in California, now we will finish in California.”

Ruth is survived by her husband Cornelius (Neil) Jones of Monrovia, CA., 3 daughters: Grace Jones of Monrovia CA., Barbara Jones of Pasadena, CA., and Judy Flores of Monrovia, CA. 3 grandchildren: Bethany, Joshua & Reginae, and 2 great-grandsons: Orion and Leonardo, as well as her sister-in-law Sharon (Berkman) Jones of Florida, and eight nieces and nephews.

A Memorial Service for Ruth M. Jones will be held on June 24, 2023, 10:30 a.m. at the First Baptist Church of MonroviaArcadia located at 223 S Encinitas Ave, Monrovia, CA 91016. A light luncheon will follow.  If you cannot attend and would like to share a memory of Ruth, you may send it to Neil Jones at 248 W. Walnut Ave., Monrovia, CA 91016.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Ruth’s name can be sent either to the First Baptist Church Monrovia-Arcadia OR a Nursing or Health Project with International Ministries at