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Ferdinand Taylor Jones, Jr.

May 15, 1932 September 10, 2022
Ferdinand  Taylor Jones, Jr.
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Obituary for Ferdinand Taylor Jones, Jr.

Ferdinand Taylor Jones Jr., age 90, died peacefully in the company of his family on September 10, 2022, after contracting pneumonia. Born and raised in New York City, he was the son of Esther Harris Haggie Jones and Ferdinand Jones Sr. After receiving an AB at Drew University, he joined the Army and served in Germany. Upon discharge he went to the University of Vienna and earned a Ph.D. in Psychology. He returned to the New York area and was an active part of the community mental health movement in the 1960’s, taking a variety of positions that bridged social justice and psychological concerns. In 1968 he accepted a faculty position at Sarah Lawrence College and began his academic career.

In 1972, Professor Jones joined the faculty of Brown University and divided his time between teaching in the Department of Psychology and clinical work with students. When the Department of Psychological Services was formed in 1980, he became its first Director. His tenure in that position was notable for his support of innovative programming that targeted the positive mental health of the campus as a whole. In 1992 he retired from his position at Psychological Services and focused on his teaching role in the Department of Psychology. He developed well-regarded courses on Cultural Mistrust, the Cultural Context of Psychotherapy, and Human Resilience long before it was the broadly accepted concept it is today. The personal characteristics that made him an excellent psychotherapist also made him an effective teacher: a profound respect for others, a careful thoughtfulness about all undertakings, and a creative approach to his work. In the Warren Alpert School of Medicine, he established seminars on minority issues for clinical psychology interns and post-doctoral fellows.

He made numerous contributions to Brown, the surrounding community and professional associations, including serving as chair or member of many policy and planning committees. He was on the Board of Trustees of Women and Infants Hospital and the Board of Directors of the Center for Reconciliation RI. He served as President of the American Orthopsychiatric Association 1989 – 90.

He was a visiting professor to several universities, including Oberlin College, Sarah Lawrence College, the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and the University of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. 

Ferd’s final professional commitment was as a Core Faculty Member at the Center for Multicultural Training in Psychology, a clinical psychology internship program training multiculturally oriented psychologists to work with low income and racially/ethnically diverse populations. He considered this to be the capstone of his career, affording him the opportunity to contribute to a program that represented his own deep-rooted values.

For over 50 years, he spent every summer on Beals Island, Maine. He enjoyed the beauty of the woods and ocean, and he treasured the deep and lasting friendships he made there. He had a life-long passion for jazz, bringing to bear on jazz his sensibilities as a psychologist. He explored the ways that jazz embodies affirming elements of African American culture as well as crucial resilience elements: Jazz is for me an anthem of my identity as an African American man. He examined these themes in a book he edited with his brother Arthur, who is also a  psychologist: The Triumph of the Soul: Cultural and Psychological Aspects of African American Music.

The hallmark of Ferd as a person was his confidence in the goodness and competence of the people he came in contact with. There was something in the way that he interacted with people that drew the best from them. If you were to ask him about the theme of his life, he would unhesitatingly respond: profound gratitude – for his long life, countless fulfilling relationships, many professional achievements, and most importantly, for his extraordinary extended family. He saw the love and support of his family as crucial to any success he experienced.

He was preceded in death by his dear wife Myra and his cherished sisters, Anna Thomas and Elaine Murray. He is survived by his brother Arthur (Christine Chao) of Denver CO, daughter Joanne Jones-Rizzi (Diane Willow) of Minneapolis MN, daughter Terrie Jones of Wilmington DE, granddaughter Zora Jones Rizzi (Addie Wyman Battalen) of Arlington MA, great-grandsons Wilder and Sy, and his partner Belinda Johnson.

A memorial service will be held at a later date.

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