Patty Jones, 77, social worker

October 18, 2001|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Patty G. Jones, a social worker whose Ministry of the Door at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in downtown Baltimore helped the needy, died Monday of a stroke at St. Agnes HealthCare. The longtime Dickeyville resident was 77.

Known as a warm and open-hearted woman, Mrs. Jones, a social worker, began ministering to Emmanuel's elderly communicants in 1974, helping them make the transition from homes to retirement communities and assisted living facilities.

She helped plan funerals or medical treatment for the church's senior citizens who had no family, and became its expert on services and resources available to the elderly. Sometimes her help consisted of nothing more than hand-holding or offering a shoulder for someone to cry upon.

Drug abuse and AIDS in the Mount Vernon neighborhood surrounding the church expanded her role. She got used to the church doorbell ringing with greater frequency. Street people, the homeless and those evicted from apartments came to the church's red door.

"In 1974, an occasional street person would ring the bell and ask for food or money, but by 1984 with federal cutbacks, it took off, and the tide of homeless people began rolling in," she told The Sun in a 1993 interview.

She described her work as "hands-on service."

Before coming to Emmanuel, Mrs. Jones worked as a volunteer social worker in Johns Hopkins Hospital's General Medical Clinic from 1968 to 1975. Earlier, she had worked for the Baltimore County Welfare Association's Department of Children for Adoption and Foster Parent Aid from 1951 to 1958.

"There was a Southern charm about her, and she was one of the most caring people I've ever met. And that's what she brought to her social work. She truly cared about people," said the church rector, the Rev. Thomas Culbertson. "She worked long hours helping people get from where to there."

David L. Kettler of Roland Park, a member of Emmanuel, said, "Pat had a wonderful ability at reaching out to people on the fringes."

"She reached out to those that others would shun," said Jane Tabb, a longtime friend from Catonsville. "She wanted them to lean on her, and she was able to give advice without it sounding like advice. That's the way she ran her life."

Born and raised in Petersburg, Va., Patty Guerrant earned her bachelor's degree in social work in 1943 from the Richmond Professional Institute of the College of William and Mary.

She was married in 1944 to Robert P. Jones, and after working for Traveler's Aid in Washington in the late 1940s and in upstate New York, she settled in Dickeyville in 1958. Her husband, controller of the old Equitable Bank, died in 1973.

Mrs. Jones' neat brick and clapboard home, with its black shutters and window boxes, sat on what local residents call "The Hill." It was there that she entertained friends and neighbors over pots of steaming tea.

She was an engaging conversationalist who enjoyed working in her meticulously tended garden, reading the poetry of Emily Dickinson and keeping up with world events.

For years, she helped organize the annual Baltimore Herb Festival, held each May in nearby Leakin Park.

"She was a very empathetic, friendly and interesting person who was always organizing potluck suppers and other gatherings in Dickeyville," said Barbara Hopkins, a friend of 43 years and resident of the community.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, 811 Cathedral St.

Her sole survivor is an aunt, Lucile Parsons of Hopewell, Va.

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