Obituary: Annie Rose Jones / Built undergraduate program in social work at Pitt
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Anne Rose Jones knew social work from all sides.
She worked in the trenches as a young woman helping disadvantaged children and other needy individuals in New York state and Pittsburgh. She trained others who were becoming social workers in the anti-poverty programs of the 1960s. And she mentored many young people entering the field through the undergraduate social work program at the University of Pittsburgh, a program Mrs. Jones built in the 1970s.
As much as all that professional work, the spirit of helping those less fortunate in society was a day-to-day calling for Mrs. Jones, who grew up in modestly better circumstances herself as the daughter of a New Castle steelworker.
"She just cared about people and was driven to make a difference," said her daughter, Connie Rose-Leagiton of Downingtown, Chester County.
Mrs. Jones died April 16 in her Oakland apartment after suffering from heart problems and diabetes in recent years. She was 89.
Her combination of cheerfulness and caring won her respect from people at equally low and high stations in life, from her students as well as her faculty colleagues, from those she helped in the streets as well as from government officials.
After obtaining a bachelor's degree from Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C., Mrs. Jones worked in migrant camps and children's care homes in New York state before arriving in Pittsburgh in the late 1940s on the staff of the North Side's Termon Avenue Home for Children.
As she gained more experience, she grew into positions with citywide programs like Action Housing and Community Action Pittsburgh. She was director of training at the latter anti-poverty program in the 1960s and also served as acting executive director when the head of the agency left.
Such positions put Mrs. Jones on the front lines at a time when the nation's consciousness of the problems of urban minorities and other impoverished groups was rapidly awakening.
In 1970, she shifted to the Pitt faculty, which gave her a new challenge: The School of Social Work was previously only for those pursuing master's degrees, and it was newly opened to undergraduates. She was the undergraduate director, in addition to teaching students.
Barbara Shore of Squirrel Hill, a retired professor, said Mrs. Jones was perfect for the role, as someone with numerous connections from years of networking. Mrs. Jones knew the city's impoverished neighborhoods intimately, and her husband, the late Paul L. Jones, served in positions under multiple Pittsburgh mayors.
"Anne had to convince people both that it was academically correct and sustainable [to train undergraduates in social work] and that there would be worthiness to it," Mrs. Shore said.
"She did that very well because she was very well-respected by both the social work community and the academic community, and she had such an appealing personality that you could never get angry at her. She was a charmer."
Mrs. Jones continued that work while obtaining her master's degree in social work from Pitt and then earning a Ph.D. there in education. Her dedication to both learning and helpfulness was an example to many.
"She was so non-judgmental and just supportive," said one of her students, Tracy Soska, who is now the School of Social Work's director of continuing education. It was Mrs. Jones' nature to invite him and fellow students into the faculty lunchroom and treat them to a meal.
"She nurtured and shepherded just about everybody here, and she always had an infectious smile," he said. "If you were having a tough day and you met Anne, you just perked up."
Mrs. Jones served on boards of numerous nonprofit agencies during her professional career, among them the Three Rivers Adoption Council, Hill House Association and Womanspace East Inc. She continued some of those, as well, after her 1988 retirement from Pitt, which honored her nine years later with an award for her service to the school.
A memorial service was held Thursday, with arrangements by White Memorial Chapel of Point Breeze.
First Published April 23, 2011 12:00 am