Thomas N. Jones, 86, of Lombard, IL passed away on October 15, 2021. Tom’s parents Louis E. and Mary Ruth Jones moved to Lombard in 1936 where Tom, his brother Richard and his sister Margaret were raised and the family was an active part of community. Tom was involved in the Boy Scouts, earning the Eagle Scout badge in his late teens. Tom attended the University of Chicago, where he met Anne Kay. In 1960 Tom and Anne were married and moved to Glen Ellyn, IL where they raised four children: Cathy, Tom, Bill and Nate.
In the 1960s, Tom worked for the U.S Postal Service as a letter carrier. Tom and Anne pursued their interest in guitar and banjo through lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Anne soon started teaching guitar to interested neighbors. By the mid-1970s, Anne’s “front porch” guitar lessons had grown to include adult education classes through various venues such as the YMCA, park district programs and College of DuPage. Tom and Anne Jones Folk Guitar and Banjo grew to a full time business run by Tom and Anne. When more space was needed, a new location was found in Wheaton. Anne was now teaching guitar, autoharp and mountain dulcimer. Tom was teaching banjo, bass, dobro and instrument building. Daughter Cathy joined the family business as the fiddle and mandolin instructor. The name was changed to the Jones Family Music School. Tom, Anne and Cathy performed as the Jones Family String Band, bringing folk music to many local schools, libraries and community events. During the ebbs and flows of the music business, Tom took on part-time work as a school bus driver while continuing to teach banjo and beginning guitar as well as performing with the Jones Family String Band. In 1989 Tom and Anne moved into Tom’s family home in Lombard, IL where they continued to share their love of folk music with people in the communities around them through group and private lessons, sponsoring workshops and house concerts and remaining active in several local folk music organizations. The Jones Family Music School wound down when Anne lost her battle with cancer in 2011.
In addition to his love of banjo music, Tom was also a craftsman and an audiophile. He had a passion for maintaining an audio record folks playing music and sharing stories about their music and their experiences. In the 1970s he started classes to assist students in building instruments from kits. Tom and Anne were introduced to the Foxfire books in the 1970s and maintained an interest in the crafts and culture of the southern Appalachian region. Many a family vacation was spent visiting the Smokey Mountains and visiting folk-life museums in Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina and northern Georgia.
Tom is survived by his sister Margaret and sister-in-law Betty; his daughter Cathy; son Tom and his children Sarah and Benjamin; son Bill and his wife Caroline and their children Austin (married to Raquel) and Suzannah; son Nate and his wife Pamela and their children Wesley and Adrian. Tom will be missed by all his family and the many lives he touched not only through music but also in his time as a letter carrier and bus driver. We take heart that he has now joined with his wife Anne, his parents Louis and Mary Ruth, his parents-in-law William and Eloise, his brother Richard and his grand-daughter Abigail, all of whom predeceased him.
The family will hold a Traditional Quaker Memorial Service for Tom on Saturday, May 28 at 11:00 AM. Masks are required during the Memorial Service in accordance with CDC Guidelines. In addition, there will be a Music Open House and Jam Session from 2:00 PM to 5:00 PM to share music and remembrances of Tom and Anne and the music school. Instruments are welcome. Masks are optional for the Open House. Both events will be held at the Friends Meeting of Downers Grove located at 5710 Lomond Ave in Downers Grove.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donation to an organization that represents Tom’s impact on your life. Below is a list of some organizations that represent Tom’s varied interests:
Old Town School of Folk Music – www.oldtownschool.org WBEZ (Chicago’s NPR Station) – www.wbez.org
Museum of Appalachia – www.museumofappalachia.org Foxfire Appalachian Heritage – www.foxfire.org
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