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Helen Jones – actor, activist, writer, humanitarian – passes

May 10, 2006

Helen Jones was a fixture in the Fillmore, walking daily through the historically Black neighborhood she loved, greeting and encouraging her neighbors.
Helen Jones was a fixture in the Fillmore, walking daily through the historically Black neighborhood she loved, greeting and encouraging her neighbors.
Helen C. Jones passed away on May 4, 2006, at the age of 78 years. She lived a beautiful life during which she fulfilled many of her dreams. Helen was born in Ithaca, New York, of African American and Mohawk Indian descent. She left Ithaca to pursue a life in the theater. In New York City, she acted in numerous off-Broadway shows and was active in the Black Friars Theater Group.

Helen moved to San Francisco with her three daughters in 1969. She remained active in theater through improvisational drama workshops she brought to children at the Youth Guidance Center, the Potrero Hill Neighborhood House and John Swett Elementary School.

A community activist, she served as a founding member of CANE, the Committee Against Nihonmachi Eviction; took her family to Alcatraz as part of the reclaiming of Native land; and worked for many years with the African American Historical and Cultural Society as a historian (see “Commemorating the courage and skill of Black Americans” in the May 12, 2004, Bay View).

With a passion for international work, Helen traveled to Cuba (see “Sister Cities united” in the May 22, 2002, Bay View) and worked for many years with the Academy of World Studies. Helen loved to write and published many articles and two books.

She is survived by her daughters Clothilde V. Hewlett, Dr. Mary Ann Jones and Susan Jones, who were with her when she transitioned. Her beloved grandsons, Evan Hewlett, Stephen Hewlett and Hassan Gali, were the pride and joy of her life.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to either of the following tax deductible charities: Rosa Parks Elementary School Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program or the Helen C. Jones Scholarship Fund at Global Exchange.

Editor’s note: Fighting oppression will be much harder without Helen Jones. Whether fearlessly scolding the oppressor or tenderly encouraging the oppressed, she could always be counted on to volunteer for a good cause, no matter the sacrifice. She taught us and united us and befriended all who needed her. In everyone who challenges wrong and dares to right it, Helen’s great heart will forever beat for justice, and the stars in the sky will reflect the twinkle in her eye.

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