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North Augusta community leader Elizabeth Jones leaves legacy of advocacy

To many, lifelong North Augustan Elizabeth Jones was an inspiration.

Jones spent her life looking out for others, being a role model to her family, volunteering at schools, advocating for seniors and spending time within the community.

“She had so many talents, but the community has lost a leader,” said Jones' close friend Alice Twiggs Vantrease.

Jones passed away from a stroke the week of Oct. 6, 2021 at age 67. She is survived by her three daughters: Katie Kern, Kidada Nelson and Nzinga Blackwood.

For Kern, her mom was her role model.

“My mom was pretty much the most brilliant woman that I know. She was an avid reader, she was a brilliant writer. She was a lover of the arts. She was an advocate for seniors and she loved her family,” Kern said.“… my mom exposed us to so much culture and just opened our eyes to a bigger world outside where we lived and just wanted us to take every opportunity that was presented to us and just really thrived in life, that was her motto is to really take risk, be fearless and thrive in life that was what she was all about.”

Jones’ advocacy for seniors and working to get a senior center in North Augusta is remembered by the community.

“It was really a passion with her to help the elderly, and no matter how many times city council ignored her in North Augusta – and they did – she kept going back,” Vantrease said. “… She would not accept defeat. Period.”

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Jones worked in Augusta at the Shiloh Comprehensive Senior Center and often took trips to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to advocate for the rights of seniors. Jones previously worked at the Sacred Heart Cultural Center and an Augusta museum in Georgia, and worked on mental health initiatives. Jones also used to write for the North Augusta Star.

She also was a certified Tai Chi and Geri-Fit instructor and loved listening to music with her family. Jones spent her time working on community projects with Historic North Augusta and the Rotary Club.

Jones ran for city council in 2019 and 2021. Her family encouraged her to run for office and she had plans to run again in 2023.

“She ran for city council in North Augusta and actually consulted with me and asked, 'hey do you think this is something I should do' and I said absolutely, you are like the smartest person that I know,” Kern said. “I think you should definitely run for something like that. I think you have been a citizen of North Augusta for years. You’ve contributed to the community and you should be someone that goes out there and fulfills that dream for yourself.”

Vantrease hopes to continue her friend's legacy in North Augusta and remember her efforts.

“She was just an amazing woman but her love and dedication to North Augusta is the one thing that I take away but she not only talked the talk, she walked the walk,” Vantrease said.

“It’s sad to lose good people with great intentions and great potential… we don’t have enough of them in this city and she will be missed,” Mark Newell with Historic North Augusta said. “There is no question about that.”

North Augusta Mayor Briton Williams admired Jones and her work, speaking highly of her candidacy and ability to communicate with others.

“I think that is the thing about Elizabeth and she had her views but she never rubbed people the wrong way,” Williams said. “She was just so respectful of others and she was the kind of person that you could kind of debate and talk and discuss and she always listened and she respected other people's views but she was very strong about her own and you could finish talking to her and never feel bad and you might not come to an agreement. You never felt slighted and never felt anything other than respect for how she conducted her life. She was just a really neat lady who I just think treated everybody the right way.”

Kern remembers her mother as her support system with wisdom and advice.

“My mom has always been an inspiration and the reason why she has always been an inspiration is because she leads by example,” Kern said. “She would never tell me anything that she hasn’t done herself or experienced herself. She was always someone who was pushing me on a daily basis to be the best version of myself.”

A public viewing for Elizabeth Jones will be held on Oct. 9 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Brightharp and Sons in North Augusta.

Samantha Winn covers the city of North Augusta, with a focus on government and community oriented business. Follow her on Twitter: @samanthamwinn and on Facebook and Instagram: @swinnnews

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