Vernice Jones, 82, teacher, church youth group leader

January 16, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Vernice Jones, a retired city teacher who worked with generations of young people at her church, died of heart failure Monday at Sinai Hospital. She was 82 and lived in the Ashburton section of Northwest Baltimore.

She taught at elementary schools for 33 years in four city locations -- Joseph H. Lockerman School at Mount and Saratoga streets, Public School No. 123 at Fremont Avenue and Lemmon Street, Diggs-Johnson Middle School on Barre Street and Morrell Park Elementary on Washington Boulevard. She retired in 1975.

As a young woman growing up on Bennett Place, Mrs. Jones joined New Shiloh Baptist Church under its founding pastor, the Rev. Whit W. Allen, when the church was located at Fremont Avenue and Lanvale Street. She joined the church's Baptist Young People's Union and Sunday school.

Mrs. Jones worked with the church's teen-age members and spent hours listening to their stories and offering advice.

She chaired the church's youth division from 1960 through the early 1980s, and served as an adviser to the Youth Fellowship, a teen club. She also was Sunday school superintendent.

She accompanied her groups on retreats to the Lott Carey Youth Convention at Virginia Union Seminary in Richmond. She took them duckpin bowling at Lafayette Lanes and accompanied them around the neighborhood singing Christmas carols.

In the 1960s, Mrs. Jones helped paint and renovate a basement coffeehouse on Fremont Avenue so her group could have a place of its own to meet and socialize.

A New Shiloh deacon, she was a member of its Board of Christian Education and the Baptist Evening Fellowship.

Vernice Clayton was born in Richmond County, Va., and moved to Baltimore as a child. She was a 1937 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School and Coppin Teachers College.

In the mid-1950s, when blacks were not allowed to enroll in graduate school at Maryland's universities, she attended New York University, where she received her master's degree.

"In the summer, she would catch the train and travel to New York to further her education," said her daughter, Carolyn Foster of Ashburton.

Mrs. Jones was an active member of the Douglass High School Alumni Association, the Retired Teachers Association of Baltimore City, the Maryland State Retired Teachers Association and the Clayton Memorial Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star.

In 1943, she married Aubrey D. Jones, a tailor and custodian. He died in 1992.

Funeral services will be held at noon Tuesday at New Shiloh Baptist Church, 2100 N. Monroe St.

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by three sisters, Leanna Sanders, Mary C. Frazier and Ruth E. Clayton, all of Baltimore; and a grandson.

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