In memoriam: Diana Jones

Western Today staff

Diana L. Jones passed away from complications from peritonitis and cancer treatment on Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. She was an associate professor in the Human Services program in Woodring College of Education at Western Washington University and had been recently named the new director of the Human Services program.

She was the beloved daughter of Gerald and Evelyn Jones of Otter Lake, Mich., the sister of Denise Ingham of Oxford, Mich., and Stephen Jones of Clio, Mich., and the cherished partner of Vicki Hsueh of Bellingham. She also had 10 nieces and nephews and five grand-nieces and -nephews who were incredibly dear to her heart.

She had a reflective, fun-loving, adventurous, and empathetic spirit in her life, scholarship, and teaching. She received a Ph.D. in Community Research and Action from Vanderbilt University, a M.T.S. in Theology from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, a M.A. in Sociology from Emory University, and a B.A. in Psychology from Adrian College. In the course of her career, she published numerous articles on: power, action, and community organizing; participatory decision-making; religion, illness, and empowerment; and the role of feeling and belief in chronic and genetic diseases. What linked her research was a deep concern and interest in the forms of knowledge, emotion, and belief that shaped community and individual action, advocacy, and empowerment. Drawing upon her training in community psychology, sociology, and theology, she allowed people to tell their own stories and share their insights, concerns, and beliefs to enable better understanding of how communities do and can make change. Her research took her to numerous communities in Tennessee, Georgia, New York, and Washington, among others. With gentle humor and a wide-ranging curiosity, she brought compassion and scholarly rigor to the classroom. She loved to empower her students to act and reflect on community concerns, social justice, and human services. For Diana, advocacy for others was a central and abiding core value.

She had a deep and wide community of family and friends with whom she loved to travel, explore, take long walks, debate, share, and laugh. She was kind and humble, compassionate and wise, sweet and fun-loving. She loved to go on any roadtrip. She relished the chance to discuss books, film, and television. She cared deeply about spending time with her family, friends, and dogs, and was a great listener, thinker, and advocate.

She had just enjoyed a wonderful summer. Her cancer had been in remission for close to three years and she went on a fantastic roadtrip to Michigan to spend time with her family. We all had a terrific time going on walks, having bbqs, riding bikes, and catching up on everything, small and large. Few things made her happier than sitting out in the sun, spending time with the people that she loved. We were lucky to have had such an amazing time with her. She had the most beautiful smile, the warmest spirit, the most joyous soul. We loved her very much.

There will be a formal service in Michigan for Diana on Oct. 24, 2015. There will also be a more informal service in Bellingham for Diana's friends and family in the next couple of weeks. Information on that event will be forthcoming and we warmly welcome all of her students, colleagues, and friends.

In the last month, she was thrilled that her close friend Cassie Lee Baker and her daughter, Julia, were setting up a Light the Night team in Seattle in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She had wanted very much to support Cassie and Julia and all the Light the Night walkers. If you are interested in making a donation on Diana's behalf to Light the Night and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, please check here:

Thursday, September 24, 2015 - 11:56am