Marilyn Rector Jones believed that peace — not war or violence — solved conflict. She spent a lifetime spreading that message as a member and past president of the Interfaith Peacemakers of Edina and one of the founding members of Grandmothers for Peace.
“She was very much opposed to any kind of national policy that favored use of military force,” said Hugh Jones, her husband of 58 years. “She wanted people to look at the consequences to what was being done and consider the results. She wanted people to think through the issues.”
Jones, a 50-year resident of Edina, died Dec. 16 after a long illness. She was 83.
Her peacemaking efforts began in the 1970s when she and others gathered to talk about the threat of nuclear war and the rapid arms buildup. Those discussions sparked an antiwar movement that drew support from clergy and led several churches to form the Interfaith Peacemakers of Edina. With Jones’ help, the organization met regularly, held public forums and brought in prominent speakers.
In the 1980s, Jones and five friends met to talk about how the nuclear movement might affect their grandchildren. Gatherings started privately, but the group, which called itself Grandmothers for Peace, later opened its discussions to the public with monthly meetings at the Edina Public Library.
Grandmothers for Peace has carried peacemaking signs near 50th Street and Halifax Avenue in Edina, protested at a National Rifle Association gathering at the Minneapolis Convention Center and marched in the annual Edina Independence Day parades. The group, which still meets on the first Wednesday of the month, has tackled topics ranging from homelessness to climate change.
“She was concerned about fairness, about what was right and good and what was wrong,” said friend Jane Venell, one of Grandmothers for Peace’s original members. “She was intensely curious about what was happening in the world. Her idea was to be informed about the issues and offer that information to other people. She was good at asking questions. She got others to think.”
Jones regularly attended the Nobel conferences at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., and was an active member of Women Against Military Madness.
Along with raising four children of her own, Jones spent several years caring for preschoolers in the 1980s. She had “great rapport” with the kids she watched over as co-director of the Unity Nursery School in the basement of the First Universalist Church, her husband said. She later worked for Greater Minneapolis Daycare, a city agency that acted as a clearinghouse for those looking for child care in the city.
Jones was the first smiling face many saw when they walked into Abbott Northwestern Hospital in south Minneapolis. In her 23 years as a weekly volunteer, from 1990 until earlier this year, she staffed the reception desk, organized the annual art sale and served as the auxiliary’s president.
“Her sense of responsibility led her to take on whatever needed to be taken on,” Hugh Jones said.
Jones was born in Baltimore and grew up in Philadelphia. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1952 and worked in the public relations field. She married in 1955 and the couple moved to Edina in 1961.
In addition to her husband, Jones is survived by three sons, Keith and David, both of Minneapolis, and Thomas, of Spring Lake Park; a daughter, Meredith, of Berlin, and eight grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held in the spring.