Recent Obituaries
In Memoriam Archive

Bart Jones ’65

March 5, 2023, from Parkinson’s disease.

Bart learned to read at age five when he had rheumatic fever; he then skipped first grade. After graduating from Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie, New York, Bart attended Reed, where he studied linguistics and received a bachelor’s in general literature. He spent his junior year in Greece learning the language.

Bart entered doctoral programs in linguistics at the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania (where he edited a book, Kinesics and Context by Ray Birdwhistell), and SUNY Buffalo, where it became clear he wasn’t destined to be an academic. While living in Portland, Bart helped start a bicycle repair collective and worked for the urban planning department for the city.

Bart’s pursuit of a unique lifestyle was an inspiration to many. He embraced the past as well as the future; he was a lover of Renaissance music and a steward of the land, while also being an early computer enthusiast. Bart lived an unconventional, frugal life, riding his recumbent bike around much of the country. He was gifted in making things work and using words creatively to express firm opinions. He had a discerning ear and liked early music, the recorder, and the flute. He also loved folk dancing, scouting, science fiction, and doing pretty much anything barefoot—including hiking. In 2000, he donated a kidney to his niece, Rae Jones.

He met Ruth McNeil (known affectionately as “Woofie” to many) through his sister-in-law in what started as a cross-continent correspondence. They married in 1992 and lived together in Medford, Massachusetts, then moved to Corvallis, Oregon, where Bart owned and managed an undeveloped tree farm. Bart added a road, a yurt, and some shelters to the land, and worked diligently on managing the trees. Ruth died about 2 years ago.

Bart had Parkinson’s disease for about 10 years, which became more serious during the past year. He leaves behind his brother, Stephen Jones; sister, Marion Phelps; and many close friends and chosen family in the Willamette Valley. Bart’s body is undergoing a composting burial process, and the majority of the soil from this process will be sent to a conservation site on the Olympic Peninsula.

Appeared in Reed magazine: Fall 2023

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