On and off the job, Waring Jones combined his penchant for the written word with adventure.

Jones, playwright, theatrical producer, journalist and book collector, died Jan. 10 in St. Paul. He was 80.

The longtime Wayzata resident was a benefactor and producer at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis.

In the mid-1980s, when the center was in financial trouble, Jones came to the rescue.

Polly Carl, the producing artistic director of the center, said he told her that "he had paid off his mortgage" so he was able to take on another. "He was as interested in providing other people a sense of adventure as well as indulging his own."

He produced a half-dozen plays and musicals at the center. The theater at the center is named for him.

Before World War II, Jones attended Hopkins' Blake School, but graduated from high school in New York. During World War II, he served in the Army as a radio broadcaster in Hawaii.

After he graduated from Princeton University with a bachelor's degree in English, he followed family members into the newspaper business, buying the Hokah Chief, a newspaper in Hokah, Minn. His father, Carl Jones, was a publisher of the Minneapolis Journal. And Jones' grandfather, Herschel Jones, also owned Twin Cities newspapers. He ran the Hokah newspaper for several years in the early 1950s, often single-handedly.

His nontraditional ways got him into trouble in Hokah, said his son, Finn-Olaf Jones of Los Angeles.

"He had an absolute blast," said his son, but was "thoroughly attacked," after publishing a photo of a dead woman in her casket, much to the outrage of church officials.

As an advice columnist, he once answered a woman's complaint about a neighbor's dog that barked a lot.

His advice was "Shoot the dog," reported his son, who added that his father was in reality a dog lover.

Beginning in the late 1950s, he worked on documentaries in New York, and in the early 1970s, he moved his family to London and Denmark, producing plays for the London stage.

He returned to Wayzata in 1976, but continued working in London for a few more years.

"Dad was a guy who always wanted to make sure everyone around him was entertained," said his son. "He had an uncanny ability to pull people out of themselves, so he was great with creative people."

Like his father and grandfather before him, Jones was a passionate book and art collector. And he made collecting an adventure.

His son recalled tramping through a favorite camping area of Ernest Hemingway's in the woods in Michigan.

Once, Jones was able to scoop up valuable Hemingway drafts, letters and financial papers, when a closet full of the author's stuff was about to be tossed. He had been tipped off by a mutual friend, a bartender at Sloppy Joe's in Key West.

"It was in his blood. His father and grandfather were collectors too," said his son.

In addition to Finn-Olaf, he is survived by his son Henrik of San Francisco; a daughter, Benedicte Hallowell of Brookline, Mass.; former wives Yoyo Tesdorpf Jones of Cambridge, Mass., and Lucy Rosenberry Jones of Wayzata, and eight grandchildren.

Services will be at 3 p.m. today at Westminster Church, 1200 Marquette Av., Minneapolis.