Dr. Billie Jo Jones, died on February 7, 2021, at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital following a short illness. She remained energetic, active and engaged in life throughout her 93 years.
Born in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, on December 10, 1927, Billie was the youngest of nine children born to Carrie Risner and Thomas Jefferson Jones. True to form Billie was the most stubborn child of the family outliving all her siblings even though several lived comfortably past their 100th birthdays. As a child and into adulthood, Billie had a love for, played and enjoyed many sports excelling in high school basketball and volleyball. At Arkansas Teachers College (now University of Central Arkansas) she played tennis and graduated from Arkansas State with a BSE in 1949. She also coached Girls’ Basketball and Softball while attaining her degree in the Murfreesboro School District. Billie continued to teach as an Instructor of Physical Education at the University of Arkansas and later at Drury College while working on her M. S. degree in 1952. She also taught in the North Kansas School District and served as coach of the Women’s Volleyball and Track and Field teams at Oklahoma State University. Billie rose from Instructor to Associate Professor while pursuing graduate credits at Oklahoma State and the University of Oregon.
In order to complete her doctoral studies Billie came to Florida State University as a Graduate Assistant and coached the Women’s Volleyball and Softball teams in the early years of Women’s Athletics. After receiving her Ph. D. at FSU, Dr. Jones joined the FSU faculty as Associate Professor of Physical Education and was later promoted to Professor. In addition to her teaching responsibilities Dr. Jones served as Head Coach of the FSU Women’s Varsity Softball team from 1971-74 and also the Women’s Varsity Volleyball team from 1972 – 1976. Billie took on these extra duties for little to no pay assuring young women of the opportunity for quality coaching in the early years of varsity athletics for women at FSU. Her teams at FSU collected numerous awards and titles including state and regional championships and multiple national appearances.
In addition to teaching and coaching, Dr. Jones published books, articles and presented papers on a variety of sport/physical education topics, served on student doctoral committees, high school and college accreditation committees, was a member of the Faculty Senate, advised the Physical Education Majors Club and served as the Intern Placement Coordinator for Graduate Studies in Physical Education.Billie also held numerous positions in multiple professional organizations. In 1985, Dr. Jones became a Service Professor in the Department of Movement Science and Physical Education and in 1989 she was honored with the distinction of Professor Emerita. In recognition of her many accomplishments, a scholarship by an anonymous donor, given in the name of Dr. Jones, is awarded annually in the College of Education to a female student who intends to teach and coach.
Dr. Jones devoted herself to teaching full time in 1975 but continued to be instrumental in the advancement of women’s athletics at Florida State. After “retiring” from coaching and passing the torch to a new generation of women coaches at FSU, Dr. Jones continued to support the athletes and coaches of the women’s teams and to push for equal opportunity and quality in women’s athletics. In 1998 she was instrumental and an active participant in the establishment of the “Committee of Thirty” at FSU to build a tradition of excellence in women’s athletics. Billie served on the Board of Directors of the FSU Varsity Club and was recognized as an outstanding FSU coach by her induction into the FSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1998.
Since retirement from the university, Dr. Jones has continued to support and encourage students and athletes to come back and give back to Florida State. She has mentored students, athletes and coaches through the years while actively supporting all the women’s sports teams with her interest and attendance at games, meets, tournaments and recognitions. In concert with Dr. Janet Wells and the Seminole Boosters, Billie helped create the “Femina Perfecta” recognition for women athletes to recognize individual excellence in life skills as well as sport. In 2005 as a response to this and with such a loyal following of students, a Jones and Wells Legacy celebration weekend was planned and over 100 students returned to campus to honor Billie Jones and Jan Wells. The event raised $350,000 to endow a new athletic scholarship named “Femina Perfecta.” Of all her abilities and accomplishments, Dr. Jones’ “superpower” was evidenced in her ability to stay actively involved with hundreds of students through the years as the teacher, coach, mentor and friend who cared and connected them back to FSU.
Dr. Jones was predeceased by her parents and eight siblings and is survived by her close colleague and companion, Dr. Jan Wells, multiple nieces and nephews, numerous great nieces and nephews, many friends and colleagues and literally hundreds of devoted students and mentees.
Plans are being made for virtual memorial service for Billie Jo Jones and will be available on line in the near future at the Cully’s MeadowWood Funeral Home website at https://www.dignitymemorial.com
In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to one of two FSU scholarships in Billie’s name The Janet Wells & Billie Jones Endowed Scholarship Fund in Pedagogy at give.fsu.edu/janandbillie or the Billie Jones and Janet Wells Women’s Athletic Scholarship through Seminole Boosters at boosters.fsu.edu/billiejones