June 14, 1936 - March 23, 2021
Oristine Etherly Jones packed more into her 84 years on the planet than do many people half her age. She was an avid traveler, a life-long learner, and a vocal advocate of education who never missed an opportunity to encourage others to keep learning. Through her casual question, “what do you want to do with your life?” she inspired family, friends and strangers to see past their current circumstances and dream bigger dreams. Oristine was born on June 14, 1936 in Palestine, Arkansas. She was the second oldest of 12 children born to the union of Aris and Jolena Etherly. The family moved to the south side of Chicago during the Great Migration seeking better earning opportunities when she was a young girl. She attended Coleman Elementary School. There she met Isiah Jones, the boy who would become her husband after they graduated high school in 1954—she from DuSable, he from Englewood. She gave up a full scholarship to Howard University to start a family. To their union four children were born: Cynthia, Anita Arlene, Sharon Eileen, and Kevin Aris. After bearing three children, Oristine went back to school, starting with TV College, progressing to Wilson Junior College, and culminating with a bachelor’s degree from Chicago Teachers’ College. She subsequently went on to earn a master’s degree in Education. She taught in the Chicago Public Schools for 30 years, but she had a diverse set of interests. Her creative nature was expressed through millinery, photography, sewing, painting, crocheting, jewelry-making, and writing. After a chance meeting with Dr. Margaret Burroughs, founder of one of the nation’s oldest museums celebrating African-American history, Oristine became a voluntary guide at the DuSable Museum. She earned a real estate license. To hone her language skills, she spent a month living with a Costa Rican family as part of an immersive Spanish language exchange program. In the fall of 1991, she lost her sight due to undiagnosed diabetes. When her “headlights” burned out, she was working on a doctorate in educational technology at her graduate alma mater, Governor’s State University. She didn’t let that speed bump stop her. She began tutoring a congenitally blind client and, frustrated that she couldn’t find appropriate instructional materials, she developed her own. That lead to the launch of EdTech, the business she founded to offer creative writing instruction to adults. Journaling helped her process the changes blindness brought: soon she was writing short stories and essays. She published a book of poetry, First Fruits of EdTech. She was co-authoring another book with her oldest grandson Quentin Jones—also a teacher—at the time of her death. Mom loved Calvary Baptist Church, where she has been a faithful member since the early 1970’s. She taught Sunday School and was a long-time member of the Beautifying Club. When she died she was a member of the Mothers’ Board and was the Honorary Mother of the Sanctuary Choir. Complications from a stroke sent Oristine to the hospital in late February. The many complications that followed were too much for her heart; she made the transition from earthly to eternal life on March 23, 2021. Her husband, parents, and four siblings—John, James, Curtis, and Yvonne—preceded her in death. Celebrating Oristine’s life and legacy are four children: Cynthia-Val (Michael) Chapman, Dr. Sharon E. Jones, Anita A. (Lowell) Downing, and Kevin A. (Saundra R.) Jones; sisters Delores, Jolena, Marcia, and Doris; brothers William, Leon, and Thomas; six grandchildren: Andrea, Asia, Chaquencia, Helene, Quentin, and Bakori; three great-granddaughters: Alana, Autumn, and Avery; and a host of relatives and friends. She always looked for the good in everything. To her, the sun was always shining.
Oristine Etherly Jones packed more into her 84 years on the planet than do many people half her age. She was an avid traveler, a life-long learner, and a vocal advocate of education who never missed an opportunity to encourage others to keep... View Obituary & Service Information
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