Gloria Callen Jones died peacefully at home at sunrise on September 2, 2016

Original article published in Charlston Gazette Mail on September 4th, 016.

Gloria Callen Jones died peacefully at home at sunrise on September 2, 2016, attended by her four children.

Mrs. Jones and her husband, Herbert E.Jones, Jr., who died in 2010, resided in Charleston since 1951. Gloria Callen Jones was born in Freeport, Long Island, NY, on December 21, 1923, the daughter of Casper Robinson Callen and Florence Mooney Callen. She began swimming at age 7, quickly finding it an outlet for her energy and competitive spirit.

“Glorious Gloria” Callen was voted the USA’s Outstanding Woman Athlete of 1942. Beginning in 1938 as a long-distance freestyle swimmer, she went on to become a backstroke champion, setting 35 American swimming records. She won 13 National titles and set one World Record. A member of the Metropolitan Swimming Association of New York, Miss Callen won a place on the US Olympic Swimming Team at trials in Portland, Oregon in August 1940, at the age of 17. The outbreak of World War II, and fear of Nazi submarines stalking the Atlantic led to the cancellation of the Olympics scheduled for Helsinki, Finland.

In June 1942, she became the first woman to be elected president of the senior class at Nyack, (NY) High School. At age nineteen, she won the New York Fashion Academy Award as one of America’s thirteen best dressed women.

With the cancellation of the Olympics, Miss Callen joined the war effort as a member of the American Women’s Voluntary Services in New York City, and entered Barnard College at Columbia University in the fall of 1943.

At a Coffee Dance at Barnard, Miss Callen met Herbert E. Jones, Jr. of Oak Hill, WV, and a recent Princeton graduate, then training for the submarine service on the U.S.S. Prairie State docked on the Hudson River. They were married in St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University on October 14, 1944. After living briefly in San Francisco, Mrs. Jones continued her studies at Connecticut College, and in the summer of 1944 was still making public appearances in support of the Red Cross. When Mr. Jones was discharged from the Navy, the couple moved to Amherstdale, Logan County, WV, where Mr. Jones worked for Amherst Coal Company.

After six years, and with three children, Herbert and Gloria Jones moved to Charleston, W.Va. in 1951. Mrs. Jones became an active community volunteer with the Junior League, and taught swimming at the YWCA. She was particularly enthusiastic about the cultural life of Charleston, working to support the Town Hall series of public lectures. She loved the West Virginia Symphony, the Juliet Art Museum in the Clay Center, and The University of Charleston Women Builders. She and Herbert were long-time members of St. Johns Episcopal Church.

Beginning in 1967, Mrs. Jones joined the Kanawha Garden Club, serving in several leadership capacities and as President during 1978 and 1979. During those years the KGC worked on the preservation and maintenance of historic Ruffner Park along Charleston’s scenic Kanawha River.

In 1981, Mrs. Jones became Chairman of Zone VII of the Garden Club of America, an area encompassing garden clubs in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina. In 1985 she became co-chairman of the Archives of American Gardens, an effort to preserve visual documentation of historic American gardens and landscape design from the Colonial Period to the present. The collection, considered a “national treasure,” was given to the Smithsonian Institution in 1992 for the benefit of researchers and scholars.

From 1986 to 1993, Mrs. Jones held numerous positions at the Garden Club of America as a member of the Executive Committee, as one of six Vice-Presidents, as Chair of the Policy Committee, and as an Advisor to the Archive of American Gardens, Garden History and Design Committee. She won the Creative Leadership Award for her zone from the Garden Club of America in 1995.

Mrs. Jones was a Trustee of Barnard College from 1986 to 1991, which, in addition to her duties at the Garden Club of America, required her to divide her time between West Virginia and New York City.

Mrs. Jones is survived by her brother, Robinson Callen of Savannah, Ga.; his 14 children; 32 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Her children include Christine Jones Huber (Joel) of Durham, N.C., Herbert Jones (Hollis Hampton) of Nashville, Tenn. and Paris, France, Callen Jones McJunkin (the late Thomas) of Charleston, and Adelyn Jones (Mercury Roberts) of Boulder, Colorado.

“Nana” adored her seven grandchildren, Jameson Jones McJunkin (Kasey Craig) of Truckee, Calif., Allison McJunkin Stalzer (Kenneth) of Lakewood, Colo., Jennifer McJunkin Schwartz (Brian) of Chicago, Ill., Mary Huber Cooley (Joseph) of Durham, N.C., Amanda Huber Klein (Howard) of Brooklyn, N.Y., Deirdre Jones Sadad (Azam) of Paris, France and Logan Blake Jones of Nashville, Tenn.

Her great-grandchildren are Hayden Callan and Reece Wynn McJunkin, McKenzie Callen Stalzer, William Jasper and Jordan Eleanor Cooley.

A team of dedicated caregivers managed Gloria’s last years with great warmth, generosity, skill, excellent humors, and extraordinary dedication. They include Mary Mitchell, Donna Sturgill, Brenda Fields, Leslie Lively, Debbie Robinson, Angie Sturgill and Lois Akers.

Friends may call at Barlow-Bonsall Funeral Home, 1118 Virginia Street East, Charleston, from 4 to 6 p.m. Friday, September 9.

Memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, September 10, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 1105 Quarrier Street, Charleston, WV 25301.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Kanawha Hospice Care, 1606 Kanawha Boulevard, West, Charleston, WV 25387 – 2536; St. John’s Episcopal Church,1105 Quarrier Street, Charleston, WV 25301; The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, 110 Wyoming Street, Suite 100, Charleston, WV 25302.

Barlow-Bonsall Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.

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