In Remembrance: T. Canby Jones ’52BD, ’56PhD Died on February 13 2014

T. Canby Jones passed away February 13, 2014, after a brief bout with pneumonia. He was 92. Jones was on the faculty at Ohio's Wilmington College for 32 years, retiring in 1987.

An obituary was published in the Wilmington News-Journal on February 17, 2014.

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    NORMAN E THOMAS, 6:48pm July 10 2017 | Ico flag Flag as inappropriate

    T. Canby Jones ’56 Ph.D.

    Canby was born on September 25, 1921 in Karuizawa on Lake Nojiri, Japan. He was the second son of Thomas Elsa Jones and Esther Alsop Balderston who were missionaries to Japan under the Friends Mission Board of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. In 1924 the family moved to New York City where Canby’s father worked on his Ph.D. at Columbia University. In the fall of 1926 the family moved to Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee, where Tom served as President.

    Since Tennessee law forbade white and black children from attending public school together, Canby attended the Demonstration School at George Peabody College for Teachers. From 1934-38 he attended Westtown Friends School in Westtown Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. It was during a weekend conference at Westtown that Canby became acquainted with the thought of Thomas Kelly.

    After graduating from Westtown, Canby continued his education at Haverford College where Thomas Kelly was a professor. His relationship with Kelly grew and resulted in weekly meetings at the professor’s home. Kelly’s sudden death in 1941 was a devastating shock to Canby. He graduated with a B.A. from Haverford in 1942.

    True to the Quaker Peace Testimony, Canby registered as a conscientious objector in 1942 and was sent to a Civilian Public Service (CPS) camp at Merom, Indiana. He continued this service in Trento, North Dakota, and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, before his release in the spring of 1946.

    On August 19, 1945 Canby married Eunice Meeks in Danville, Indiana. Their son Timothy Harvey Jones was born on August 16, 1949.They spent part of 1946 and 1947 working on postwar relief and reconstruction projects for the American Friends Service Committee in Norway’s northern-most Finnmark Province. Returning to the States, Canby worked for the Friends Peace Service headquartered in Philadelphia. His task was to encourage support for the Peace Testimony among Midwest Friends who generally supported the war efforts during World War II.

    In the fall of 1948 Canby enrolled at Yale Divinity School where he graduated with a B.D. magna cum laude in 1952. Enrolled in the Yale Ph.D. program, he was a Timothy Dwight Fellow at Yale Graduate School (1952-53), and Resident Fellow at Woodbrooke College, Birmingham, England (1953-54). While working on his Ph.D., Canby pastored Friends programmed meetings in Clinton Corners and Clintondate, New York. He received his Ph.D. from Yale in 1956.

    Canby began teaching at Wilmington College, in Wilmington, Ohio, in the fall of 1955 as an assistant professor of religion and philosophy. He was a driving force toward the construction of the Thomas R. Kelly Religious Center in 1962 on the campus. He retired from full-time teaching in 1987, was named Professor Emeritus of Religion and Philosophy, and continued to teach part-time for eight additional years. He also taught briefly at the Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana.

    Daniel N. Snarr called Canby “the consummate Quaker.” He centered his life and energy around Quaker concerns. He was instrumental in founding the Quaker Theological Discussion Group in 1957, and the Friends Association for Higher Education in 1980. Jones served for a time as editor of the journal Quaker Religious Thought, and was a contributing editor to Quaker Life. Canby strengthened ties within the Quaker family. He played important leadership roles in Friends United Meeting, the Friends World Committee for Consultation, and the Faith and Life Movement.

    Quaker themes permeated the writings of Professor Jones. His dissertation, published in 1955, was titled George Fox’s Teachings on Redemption and Salvation. In 1989 he edited The Power of the Lord Is Over All: The Pastoral Letters of George Fox. His books on Quaker themes include Triumph through Obedience (1964), Quaker Understanding of Christ and Authority (1974) which he edited, The Biblical Basis of Conscientious Objection (1970), The Lamb’s Peacemakers (1987), and A Distinctively Quaker View of Teaching and Learning (2004). In response to a request by the U.S. Naval Academy, Canby wrote George Fox’s Attitude toward War (1972 ). He honored his mentor in Thomas R. Kelly: As I Remember Him (1988).

    Canby was a founding member of the Wilmington College Campus Friends Meeting. The College recognized Jones’ life work as a Quaker theologian, educator, mentor, scholar and peacemaker by dedicating that worship center in 2007 as the T. Canby Jones Meetinghouse.

    Canby died on February 13, 2014 at Paoli Memorial Hospital in Pennsylvania at age 92. Friends and family honored him at a memorial meeting for worship at Wilmington College on April 5th. His wife Eunice Meeks Jones preceded him in death in January 2004. He was survived by their son, Timothy H. Jones, of West Chester, Pennsylvania, and his sister, Catharine J. Gaskill, of Orange City, Florida.

    SOURCES (individual photo)
    Obit at
    D. Neil Snarr, “Preface” in Practiced in the Presence: Essays in Honor of T. Canby Jones, ed. by D. N. Snarr and Daniel L. Smith-Christopher (Friends United Press, 1994).

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