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Liberty mourns loss of education professor

August 9, 2010 : University Advancement Staff

Jill Jones is pictured with her family, son Raymond Jones, Jr. (left), husband Raymond and son Nicholas ("Niko"). A funeral service is planned for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at TRBC, with visitation immediately following the service.

Hearts are aching at Liberty University today as the school mourns the loss of Dr. Jill Jones, associate professor of Graduate Education for the School of Education. Jones, 41, and her 16-year-old son Nicholas were killed Sunday in a car crash in Roanoke County, Va.

“The entire university community is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Dr. Jones and her son,” said Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. “Dr. Jill Jones was one of Liberty University’s finest faculty members. I have heard from many how she was an extremely competent professor and a committed Christian who went the extra mile with her students, showing them how teaching could be not only a profession but a ministry.”

Falwell said his own son was a classmate of Nicholas “Niko” Jones, a junior at Liberty Christian Academy. The loss also hits hard at nearby Thomas Road Baptist Church, where Jones and her family were members. Jones was active in her Sunday school class and served as a “mentor mom.” Jones leaves behind her husband, Raymond Jones, and son Raymond, Jr. A funeral service is planned for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at TRBC, with visitation immediately following the service.

Dr. Beth Ackerman, associate dean of Liberty’s School of Education, started a Facebook page to remember her friend’s life. Almost immediately students, former students and co-workers began expressing what this model teacher meant to them.

Liberty student Lindsay Beck writes: “Dr. Jones had a spirit of peace and humility about her that radiated every time she entered the classroom. I learned more than just Education related topics from her, most importantly I learned about God's love by her words and actions she displayed.”

Ackerman said Jones brought “high energy” to her job, but also “high standards.”

“She loved being at Liberty. She used to say how much she loved being able to pray over her students and sharing her faith. She would share this with me every time I saw her,” Ackerman said. “… She was one of our toughest professors, but she was loved and respected.”

Katie Gordon, who was in Jones’ class last semester, said Jones would “always get down on her knees in front of the desk and pray for us.”

Gordon also saw Jones’ compassion for students when she had to email her professor one time because she was sick and could not make it to class.

“She responded not with what work I would need to make up, but instead asking what dorm I lived in because she was coming over to check up on me with a care package,” Gordon writes.

Jones specifically focused on mentoring young women and recently wrote a women’s devotional, “The Princess Journal: A 30 Day Journey of Learning to Live Like a Daughter of The King,” published by Liberty University Press. She has traveled the country presenting at educational and women’s conferences.

On Jones’ online faculty profile page, she lists her three passions as “1) God, 2) My family and 3) education.”

Ackerman said those are “more than words to her. … She said it and did it.”

Now more of Jones’ own words from this profile may be the most comfort to family and friends at this time:

“If I could give everyone only one piece of advice it would be the following, ‘Greet each day by sliding out of bed and hitting your knees. Tell God how much you love Him and thank Him for everything you can think of. Then give Him your day, energy, passion, desire, and needs. Talk to Him throughout your day. Turn off the radio while you drive and picture Him sitting beside you. Tell Him what is on your mind and ask Him advice. Then wait for the answer. He is faithful to always respond...we often simply assume He will not. Finally, treat each day with the desire to make your Heavenly Father smile. I like to close my eyes and picture my actions bringing a smile to His face.’”