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A Gift with a Twist--for the Arts

Story by
Nancy Joseph

When Floyd and Delores Jones met in 1951, Delores had already graduated from the UW. Floyd, back from serving in the military, had just enrolled. But when they decided to make a major gift to the University years later, they did so as they do most things: together. 

Floyd and Delores Jones.

Floyd and Delores Jones. Media credit: Nancy Joseph

The Joneses are establishing the College’s first chair in the arts with a $1 million gift. The chair will rotate among the College’s academic arts units —art, dance, drama, DXARTS, and music—on a three- year basis. 

Why give to the arts when their majors were in sociology and economics? “We think the arts enhance the community and the world,” explains Floyd. “And we felt the arts really needed the support.”

That the Joneses can make such a gift is a story in itself. Floyd’s parents were poor sharecroppers in Missouri, and he was the eleventh of twelve kids. Not exactly a silver spoon situation. He was the first in his family to finish high school and the first to graduate college. He became an investment broker and discovered he was a natural, making millions for himself and his clients through the years. After 51 years, he still loves the work and heads into the office each day.

“Going into the army got me the G.I. Bill, and that made all things possible—my education, my career,” says Floyd. “I owe a lot to the G.I. Bill.”

The Joneses met at an engagement party—Floyd’s friend was marrying Delores’s roommate—and never looked back. “Delores came with a date,” Floyd recalls. “I asked her to dance anyway, and she obliged. We just fit on that dance floor. It was amazing. I proposed we go on a date, and she agreed.”

Floyd’s friend could see that Floyd was smitten and let everyone know it. “Out at the army base, his friend was telling everyone I was in love with Floyd and just didn’t know it yet,” says Delores with a laugh. 

That same year, Floyd was released from the military and arrived at the UW to complete his last two years of college. (He had finished two years at Humboldt State University in California before joining the army.) He juggled classes, a job at Boeing—building production tools in the woodshop on the graveyard shift—and, of course, romancing Delores. 

“I lost an awful lot of sleep working the graveyard shift and courting this lady on weekends, while I was going to the University,” he says. The couple married in 1953, and Floyd graduated the following year.

While Floyd was in school, Delores began working for the King County welfare department as a social worker, a job that weighed heavily on her. “I found out that I really hated not being able to help people,” she says. “To be effective, I needed to leave those cases at the office. But I couldn’t. It was difficult for me.”

Delores’s compassion may have been a problem at work, but it has led to a life filled with philanthropy. Delores and Floyd, always generous supporters of non-profits, set up the Floyd and Delores Jones Foundation in 1986 to increase their giving. To date, the foundation has donated in excess of $4 million, including major gifts to KCTS-TV, Virginia Mason Medical Center, and, of course, the University of Washington.

“Supporting what we consider good causes in our community is important to us,” says Floyd. “We’d been giving to the University of Washington every year for years. We decided it was time to make a larger gift.” 

The Joneses considered giving through a planned annuity, which provides income to them during their lifetime, but then decided they didn’t need the income and are giving an outright gift instead. “I was just a little cautious at first,” says Floyd. 

It was Floyd’s idea—borrowed from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg—
to make the chair a rotating position, which moves to a different department every three years. “I read that Michael Bloomberg had given Harvard a rotating gift and thought it was a great idea,” says Floyd. “We like the idea of supporting all of the arts.”

Thanks to the University’s matching gift fund, the University was able to 
provide a 50 percent match to the Jones’s $1 million gift, netting an additional $500,000 for the endowment.

The Joneses are thrilled to support the UW, and the arts, in this way. “We are very thankful for our ability to do this,” says Floyd. “It is a dream come true for us."