Newsmaker: Keeping Up with the Joneses

Going through the elementary school’s dumpster with the school librarian one summer in Paducah, Kentucky, had a larger impact on Tanya Jones’s family than she ever imagined.

It began when Tanya was looking for old textbooks to use in an informal home summer school she and her husband, Adolphus, were planning for their seven children. The school librarian suggested looking through the library’s trash, so Tanya did.

The principal heard about the Joneses’ plan for a home summer school and was impressed. A few months later he suggested their name to a local reporter who was looking for families to spotlight in a news story about education. The article, which appeared in a Paducah newspaper, evoked a surprising amount of response.

“I was amazed at the number of people who read it, remembered it, and actually called me up to talk about it,” Tanya said.

The article listed nine ways in which Tanya and Adolphus encourage their children to learn. Two of the ways mentioned were to read nightly from the scriptures and to have a weekly family night.

Tanya said three women called asking how to conduct a weekly family night, so Tanya invited them over to lunch and showed them the Church’s family home evening videos. “I was very excited, and they loved it,” said Tanya, who joined the Church because of a cottage meeting she attended in Louisiana.

Another point discussed in the article was that the Jones family does not own a television.

“A lot of my children’s friends were shocked to learn that we don’t have a television,” Tanya said. “They asked my children what they do if they don’t watch TV.”

What the Jones family does is actively participate in projects around the home and complete “challenges” they set for themselves. For example, Peachie, the second oldest in the family, placed second in a spelling bee contest this year. Wishing she could have placed first, Peachie set the challenge to start studying the list of spelling words during the summer.

“We are a busy family. Our children want to play and go out and be involved in things. My husband and I just do our best to try to teach them what we can about work and the gospel,” remarked Tanya.

The Joneses are members of the Paducah Ward in the Hopkinsville Kentucky Stake, where Tanya serves as ward music chairperson and Adolphus serves on the high council.Lois Brown, Springville, Utah

[photo] Photo by Matthew Reier

Music to Last a Lifetime

She began playing an old reed organ by ear before she could even properly reach the pedals. Now ninety years old, Lilas Swenson Clark never has quit reaching—not for the pedals, but to serve others through her gift of music.

Currently serving as ward organist for the Montpelier First Ward, Montpelier Idaho South Stake, Lilas started her seventy-eight years of musical service at the age of twelve when she was called to be the organist for the Primary and the ward’s religion class. At the age of thirteen, she was called as assistant organist and, three years later, as ward organist—the same calling she now has.

She has also shared her musical talent with the community, often accompanying the Montpelier High School chorus and orchestra as well as playing for an estimated fourteen thousand funerals since 1928.

Another item to add to her many accomplishments is a list of 479 students who learned to play the piano under Lilas’s watchful eye. In fact, at one time she was teaching 64 students per week.

After her marriage to Royal Clark in 1964, Sister Clark turned her service to missionary work, serving a full-time mission with her husband to the West Central States Mission.

“I’m not so busy now, but I still lead the singing at the Senior Citizens Center every week. I go to the nursing home every Thursday and play the piano for a half hour,” Lilas says.

Service Sustains Her

Since being left with seven children to care for when her husband, John, died of cancer in 1991, Maureen Ward of Stamford, England, has served in Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society, as well as giving voluntary service in the schools, where she shares her artistic skills. And for many years now, she has picked up an elderly sister and driven her to church.

Maureen, well known for her skills as a seamstress, makes wedding dresses. To go with them, she has also learned to make beautiful wedding cakes. Both are expressions of her love of family. As she has endured the years of trials, both before and after John’s death, she has come to realize that “whatever you learn, you must follow, a thought that has sustained me over and over again.”Jennie Patterson, Stamford, Lincolnshire, England

Bridging Barriers

Growing up in North Carolina, Johnnie McKoy used to read his New Testament for half an hour to an hour at a time. His mother finally told him he was going to be a preacher. He said no, he just wanted to know what the scriptures said. He wanted to know who he really was.

Once he was married, he and his wife, Rejena, wanted to rear their children as members of a church. “I prayed for about four months, morning and night,” he explains. “I wanted the Lord to really take charge of my life.”

One day he came home and found that Rejena had invited the Latter-day Saint missionaries into his living room. “They said they were led to stop at my house and my house only, having driven around the neighborhood for about two hours.”

After listening to the first discussion, Johnnie and Rejena studied for about two years before they were baptized.

After his conversion, Johnnie “fell in love with missionary work.” He was eventually asked to serve as ward mission leader. “They said I was already doing the work, so they were just giving me the calling,” he says, smiling.

Currently Johnnie is a high councilor in the Greensboro North Carolina Stake. “The Church is what is going to change the world by coming into people’s lives,” he declares.Jessie L. Embry, Provo, Utah

In the Spotlight

  • An updated version of the “last word” on American law of real property has been named after David A. Thomas, a professor at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. Brother Thomas edited the project and wrote six of the fifteen 700-page volumes. The work is titled Thompson on Real Property, Thomas Edition.

  • Ellyn J. Francis of the Okotoks Ward, Calgary Alberta South Stake, has been honored with the Alberta Provincial Excellence in Teaching Award. Sister Francis teaches elementary school students in a rural community outside Calgary. In the Church, she serves as a ward and stake family history consultant.

  • The Northern Arizona University Alumni Association recently honored Harold E. Greer with its Distinguished Citizen Award. Brother Greer, a member of the Flagstaff First Ward and former president of the Flagstaff Arizona Stake, was recognized for outstanding contributions to country, state, and community.