The Heart of Art

(09-10-2012)

Judy Jones retired after 29 years

Judy Jones, center front, surrounded by the appreciative faculty of the Art Department. From left: Claire Van der Plas, Dana Provence, Margaret Doell, Roger Erickson, Eugene Schilling, and Jenny Gawronski.

Flowers, both fresh and fashioned from paper, filled the Art Department's front office space on January 31, 2012. One colleague commented, "Feels like a florist shop in here." Administrative assistant Judy Jones retorted: "I was going to say a mortuary." The occasion was her retirement – somewhat akin to death – after 29 years devoted to Adams State.

Through achievements, challenges, and change, Jones always kept her ironic sense of humor, commitment to the department and the college, and most of all, her customer service skills. "I always loved my job," she said.

Art Department chair Margaret Doell said Jones viewed the Art Department as part of her extended family for three decades. "She was the face of the Art Department. When alumni visited – they often came in to see her."

Andrea Silva '05 said as Jones' work-study student, she learned the importance of serving the people, more than just doing a job. "Judy was efficient in getting her job done, but also took time to really care about the people she was working with and the students she interacted with."

A new art faculty member this past academic year, Jenny Gawronski said Jones "knew the answers to all of my questions and was always extremely helpful. She made me feel comfortable to approach her desk with my questions about the department."

One of Jones' responsibilities was organizing the annual Taos Watercolor Workshop, an Adams State Extended Studies class. "Judy was always very professional, friendly, and customer oriented," said workshop director Pat Wolf. "She replies immediately to inquiries and questions from me or the students. She was a wonderful representative for Adams State."

Even after 29 years, Jones never behaved as a "short timer." She worked past the last moment, balancing budgets, organizing computer and hard copy files, taking care of a variety of last minute details to make the transition as smooth as possible for the faculty and the incoming administrative assistant.

Jones' first supervisor in the Art Department was Emeritus Professor of Art Cloyde Snook, who said: "From the first day, Judy took her job seriously. Judy was always available and prompt with regards to individual concerns and to assist faculty and students, whether their questions were about the budget, supplies, class schedule, or work-study."

When she first started, Jones said there was "so much to learn." She typed all the professors' tests, ran the ditto machine, kept track of inventory, and assisted the students, as well as a host of other duties. "I only worked half days, and it was overwhelming."

Yet, she put forth the effort to learn the various duties as quickly as she could and soon became indispensable. Snook and Mary Lavey, emeritus professor of art, became her confidants, and she continues to enjoy a close relationship with Snook. "I could talk to them about anything, even personal issues. Mary was so wise, and Cloyde is like a second father to me."

Monica Escalante did graduate work at Adams State in 1992 and later returned as an adjunct professor for the '95-'96 academic year. "I remember Cloyde Snook telling me that Judy ran the department, so if I had any questions, just see her first. He was correct. She always had an answer with a smile. And Judy loved the students."

The Adams State students remind Jones of her own children. She listened to them and cared about their growth, personally as well as academically. "I became closer to some, but they leave and a new batch comes in. It is hard to see them go, but that is how it is supposed to be." For her, the students made the Art Department.

"I have always been so proud to work at Adams State," she added. "My co-workers are the greatest anybody could work with, we all worked together to achieve a goal of art excellence," Jones said.

Throughout the years, Jones witnessed changes in technology and college administration, as well as the move from the former Art Building to the current facility, finished in 2000. As with any position, there are challenging times, when work relationships face difficulties, conflicts arise, and going to work becomes less of a pleasure.

While Snook's era of leadership, from 1966 to 1992, was marked by stability and a close-knit faculty, it was followed by a time of change. By the fall of 1996, the Art Department had undergone a complete transition in faculty. Through those rather tumultuous years, Jones became the rock all students knew they could rely on. She remained neutral and did not become involved in the office politics. "I would not let anyone beat me. It is how I am made. I knew where I wanted to be and cared so much, about all of it."

Art professor Gene Schilling was one of four new faculty in the fall of 1996 and was immediately impressed by Jones' willingness to help with everything from finding housing to orienting faculty to college operations. "She wasn't the department head, but was the one in charge. Basically, she took care of us, and it stayed that way for the 16 years I have been here."

Doell, who also joined the faculty in 1996, said Jones not only excelled in her duties, but went far beyond her job description. "She made a birthday cake for everyone, brought flowers and meals to the department, and delivered chicken soup to faculty who were home sick." Jones also cooked chile, loaded wood for the kiln, and even showed up at 6 a.m. with breakfast for faculty and students who had spent the previous 12 hours engaged in an art marathon.

"Judy literally fed starving artists," said Anthony Guntren '10, who earned his master's degree in art at Adams State and was recently accepted into the Colorado State University MFA program. "JJ projected a very positive energy for anyone who found themselves in her presence." Schilling witnessed Jones helping students pay their bills. "It is incredible what she did for the students."

"I have such wonderful memories," Jones said. "From the time of Mary and Cloyde to now and with all the camaraderie and fun – we always got the job done."

Jones and her husband, Lloyd "Butch" Jones '69, have been married for 43 years and have four children, Greg '93, Kevin '96, '04 (Cheri '94), Lloyd Edward "Le," and Jennifer (Dirk) Johnson, and seven grandchildren.