Velma Jean Jones was born in Kansas City, KS on August 3, 1945. She was the fourth of six daughters born to Olvin and Corean (Brown) Burns. Preceding her in death were her parents and her sisters Olivia L. Griffin, Mildred Ann Woody, and Greta Maxine Mayberry.
A fourth-generation member of the Church of God in Christ, Velma along with the Burns Family united in fellowship with Mount Zion Church of God in Christ in Kansas City, KS. She attended Douglass Elementary School, Northwest Junior High School and graduated from Wyandotte High School in 1963. During her high school tenure, Velma discovered her passion for learning and expression. Although Velma was an active member of various clubs and organizations during high school, prominent among them were her memberships in Wyandotte’s Art and Spanish Clubs. The greatest lesson Velma learned resulted from disappointment, when her Geometry teacher refused to credit her with a grade she deserved and awarded her nothing higher than a ‘C’. Her father encouraged young Velma to continue striving for excellence, regardless if she if ever received the recognition owed to her because of her skin color. Affected by the integration of schools and a rotating school boundary, during Velma’s secondary school experience she was one of a few African American students enrolled. Combatting racial bigotry and gender bias, Velma was denied a state award for her artwork because a photo of each nominee was submitted along with the work, revealing her ethnicity. However, the same artwork was submitted by her teacher to the national art competition without a required photograph of Velma and she was awarded Gold Keys for her exceptional artistic ability. To be considered one of the most gifted artists in the country and to be recognized for her extraordinary ability, this recognition served as her proudest scholastic achievement and a defining moment in her life.
Following high school graduation, Velma attended Kansas City, Kansas Junior College (now known as Kansas City, Community College). Upon completing her course of studies at KCKJC, she enrolled and attended Kansas State Teachers College of Pittsburg (now known as Pittsburg State University). During her undergraduate tenure, Velma pledged with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Beta Zeta Chapter and served on the Greek Panhellenic Council. As an undergraduate, Velma’s exceptional grasp of foreign language acquisition resulted in her being selected by her French professor, to teach his classes while he served a sabbatical. The same professor recommended Velma to serve as an international interpreter, but she declined. Although she continued to experience bigotry while on her college campus, Velma was actively involved in various organizations where she formed friendships with individuals that lasted throughout the remainder of her life. In December of 1967, Velma gave birth to her first child, Brandon McCray. In 1971, Velma earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Languages (French, German and Spanish). While on the college campus in Pittsburg, KS, she met the love of her life; Ted Stanley Jones. Soon after their courtship began, Velma introduced her baby boy Brandon to Ted and an immediate bond was formed. After a three-year courtship, she entered into holy matrimony to Ted on July 7, 1971, in Miami, OK. Settling into Kansas City, KS, they began expanding their family. To this union, four children were born (Ted L., Jarius, Karene and Jennifer).
After returning home from school, Velma began working as a Resident Advisor at the Job Corp of Excelsior Springs and eventually she worked at the Economic Opportunity Foundation of Kansas City, KS.
During Velma’s early adulthood, she and Ted were known as socialites within their circle of friends. Velma was known as a great card player and chain smoker. However, she began to separate from her worldly lifestyle a year after Brandon was miraculously healed of Sickle Cell Anemia when Bishop Daniel M. Jordan prayed for divine healing. A month after Brandon dedicated his life to Christ in February of 1973, Velma was delivered from smoking five packs of cigarettes a day and accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior on March 11, 1973. Following Velma’s spiritual conversion, Ted (affectionately known as “Shake and Bake”) gave his life to the Lord on May 6, 1973. The young Jones Family immediately united with the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ under the leadership of Bishop Jordan and First Lady Mother Mary M. Jordan.
Legacy of Faith
Velma immediately became involved as a member of the of the Pentecostal COGIC as she served on various steering committees and auxiliaries. She often shared her testimony of deliverance from an addiction to nicotine to encourage others seeking the same experience. Bishop Jordan asked the Lord to remove the taste and the desire to ever smoke cigarettes during his prayer and since that day her consumption of 100 cigarettes per day was reduced to none, immediately. Velma accepted her call to Christian ministry by becoming a licensed missionary in the Women’s Dept. of the Pentecostal COGIC. A prolific orator, Velma shared the Word of God and proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ to countless individuals on various platforms.
For nearly 30 years, Velma served as the radio broadcast announcer for the Pentecostal COGIC. On any given Sunday, citizens of the Greater Kansas City Area could tune into Gospel 1590 KPRT at 1:30 pm and hear her say, “In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; never shall I be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. (Psalm 31:1) This is the radio broadcast of the Pentecostal Church of God in Christ, where the founder and pastor is Bishop Daniel M. Jordan. I am your radio announcer; Missionary Velma Jones and I invite you to come and experience the mighty move of God where we declare that God is a good God!”
Throughout her 46 years of serving the Lord, Velma became an ardent defender of the faith and she served the Lord with an unbridled passion. Velma and Ted modeled Christian living to their family. Oftentimes, they would gather the five children into their bedroom where they would kneel around the bed for Family Altar. Scriptures were read, a short lesson was given, and a prayer was offered before each session concluded. She taught her children to honor God, honor the sanctity of the church, to yearn for God’s presence and to love the church family.
Prior to the birth of her third child Jarius, Velma reluctantly paused her career as an educator and became a homemaker to nurture and support her children during their formative years. Because of her unyielding passion to teach, Velma provided tutoring in her home to students of all ages who needed support in all subject matters. Velma believed within her heart that if there was something that could be learned, she could teach the content. Although it was rigid and considered old-fashioned, Velma’s diagnostic instrument for evaluating students allowed her to effectively educate pupils so that the desired results could be attained. She preached excellence and loathed mediocrity. When describing the meaning of earning a ‘C’ in any academic course, Velma would say, “You are either the best of the worst or the worst of the best.” Her message was heard loud and clear and individuals knew that a grade less than a ‘B’ was unacceptable. Countless individuals credited Velma with helping them graduate from high school or college and with having an impact on their academic achievement.
Anyone who knew Velma realized that she wore many hats; literally and figuratively. She was an amazing cook, seamstress, homemaker, comic, public speaker, curator, historian and confidant.
Velma and Ted partnered with the National Toll-Free Marketing Corporation (NTFM) to help businesses acquire “1-800” numbers, in the early 1980s. Their larger than life personalities and business savvy brought them immediate success as they taught partners how to close a business transaction, instead of selling a product. The dynamic duo of Ted and Velma gained national acclaim and they were rewarded an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii. After separating from NTFM in order to devote more time to their family, Ted and Velma continued their entrepreneurial path by establishing Jones Enterprises. For nearly three decades, Ted and Velma served as wholesale distributors of retail merchandise and they took pride in selling quality products at an affordable price.
After Ted became ill in 1986 and was forced to retire from the United States Post Office, Velma pursued her first love and began teaching kindergarten through second grade at Kiddie Kollege Preschool in KCK. While serving in this capacity, Phil Witt of the former NBC affiliate WDAF Channel 4 News in Kansas City did a story that highlighted Velma’s ability to integrate Spanish into her curriculum and to develop kindergartners into exceptional readers. After four years of service, Velma was recruited and hired to serve as the Director of the Mt. Carmel Childcare Center. Immediately, Velma went to work and transformed the organization into a self-sufficient educational center where enrollment rosters were at capacity along with a waiting list of 20 applicants.
In 1992, Ted acquired Kat-N-Fiddle Childcare Center for his beloved wife. During the nine years of operation, she continued educating hundreds of children with a spirit of excellence and boundless expectations. Velma taught her two-year-old students language and mathematics and her three-year-old students began reading. The highlight of Kat-N-Fiddle was the annual Christmas program that Velma wrote, directed and produced. In addition to putting on a skit that centered around the birth of Christ, every child recited The Night Before Christmas in English and in Spanish, by memory and in unison.
In 2001, Velma sold the business to begin her career in teaching in the public-school setting. After a short stint with serving as a special education substitute teacher, Velma was accepted into the second cohort of the Kansas City Teaching Fellows program. This opportunity afforded her the opportunity to teach Spanish at F. L. Schlagle High School in the Kansas City, KS Public Schools and to earn a Master of Science degree in Teaching from Pittsburg State University in 2004.
Velma and Ted immediately immersed themselves into the school culture of their children’s alma mater and became dedicated supporters of Stallion Nation. Because of Ted being nicknamed Big Blue, Velma was assumed the nickname Mrs. Blue. Annually, they supported the Schlagle Stallion Marching Band by donating thousands of dollars towards out-of-town events. Big Blue and Mrs. Blue would show up an hour before band director Reginald May’s report time to wish students and staff safe travels. Ted and Velma would tell Mr. May to not let any child go hungry.
After returning to school from Spring Break, Velma became acutely ill while teaching a Spanish class and was admitted into the hospital. By the morning of Tuesday, March 23, 2004, Velma suffered a major stroke that permanently debilitated her right side. Although this would alter her life of independence and force Velma to retire from doing what she loved best, she continued to challenge her mind by playing the game she loved best, Scrabble. Velma enjoyed completing the daily word scramble printed in the Kansas City Star newspaper prior to her illness and resumed the activity after learning how to write with her left hand. Several years after suffering her first stroke, Velma was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. As he had always done throughout their marriage, Ted served his sweetheart, - who he affectionately called “Momma” - breakfast in bed; daily. He ensured that she was well taken care of until his health deteriorated.
Friday, December 6, 2019 at 1:30 am, Velma quietly transitioned from her earthly body to receive her long-awaited reward. After 47 years of marriage, it was fitting that she and Ted (who she referred to as Daddy) reunited after seven months and two days since his earthly departure on May 4, 2019.
She leaves to cherish her memory three sons, Dr. Brandon W. McCray of Kansas City, KS; Ted L. Jones (LaTosha) of Grandview, MO; and Dr. Jarius O. Jones (Kim) of Kansas City, KS; two daughters, Karene D. Salaam (Ron) of Oakland, CA; and Jennifer J. Jones of Independence, MO; two sisters, District Missionary Lillian Wright and District Missionary Janet Bailey of Overland Park, KS; brothers-in-love, Deacon Tommy Griffin and Herbert L. Jones of Kansas City, MO; John Watson, Sr. and Jerry S. Jones (Sherry) of Kansas City, KS; and Thomas A. Jones of Carson, CA; sisters-in-love Attorney Marilee Jones-Cofield of Carson, CA; Elizabeth Swenson (Lloyd) of Aurora, CO; Vernell Jones and Barbara Jones of Lansing, MI; five grandsons, Corey Washington; Elijha Ingram, Jamie L. Nix, II, Jarius O. Jones, II, Joseph P. McCray; seven granddaughters, Mija D. Jones, Olivia E. Jones, Alexandria K. Jones, Victoria J. Jones, Kimora Jones, Morgan R. Martin and Kelci Mitchem; one great-grandson, Jamie L. Nix, III; goddaughters, Tisa Goolsby and Ashley McNack of Kansas City, MO and Cynthia Ware of Kansas City, KS; bonus daughters, Attorney Tonia Gilbert of Kansas City, MO, Nicole Dunlap (Brandon) of Blue Springs, MO and Sabrina Juancito of Atlanta, GA; bonus son Melvin Ceasar of Houston, TX; bonus sisters, Al-Donna Daniels (Johnny), Doris Harris, Carolyn Pitchlyn, Carrie Grant (Otis) and Angelica Mobley (Allen); and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
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