She was one of the most respected and revered businesswomen and civil rights icons, not only in the Greater Houston area, but across the nation. That woman is none other than the legendary Dr. Edith Irby Jones, who passed away this past Monday, July 15th at the age of 91.
Dr. Jones will be missed by everyone who had the opportunity to know her or come across her path.
Her legacy will live on forever as a community leader, medical professional, public servant and civil rights champion.
Born in 1927, during the height of segregation in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Dr. Jones was a true history maker.
Inspired by her older sister’s death as a result of her family’s inability to afford medical care during a typhoid epidemic, Dr. Jones went on to become nationally-recognized for becoming the first African American student, and one of only a few women, to attend and graduate from the University of Arkansas School of Medicine. As a matter of fact, Dr. Jones was actually the first African American student accepted into any medical school in the segregated South, earning her M.D. in 1952.
While in Arkansas, Dr. Jones was active during the Civil Rights movement, having worked directly with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to address segregation issues, relative to education and other areas.
Dr. Jones was also a member of the “Freedom Four” (along with Attorneys Floyd Davis, Harold Flowers, and Bob Booker), where she traveled across the segregated South to speak at churches and private homes to urge people to join the Civil Rights movement and the struggle for justice and equality.
Dr. Jones started her career and opened her own medical practice in Arkansas, before moving to Houston in 1959, where she went on to become the first African American woman to have a residency in internal medicine at Baylor College of Medicine Affiliated Hospitals. Years later, she became one of the African American physicians to found Mercy Hospital. Dr. Jones would then gone on to join forces with eleven other doctors to not only develop, but own, Park Plaza Hospital.
Wanting to help those in need, Dr. Jones decided to establish her own private practice in internal medicine and gerontology in 1962, which was located in Houston’s Third Ward community.
Dr. Jones served her community well. She had many other noteworthy accolades and accomplishments, such as becoming the first female president of the National Medical Association in 1985. Dr. Jones was the only female founding member of the Association of Black Cardiologists and extended her medical practice to Haiti, Mexico, Cuba, China, Russia and throughout Africa. In addition, she provided support for two international healthcare locations that bear her name – (1) the Dr. Edith Irby Jones Clinic in Vaudreuil, Haiti, which she helped to build and (2) the Dr. Edith Irby Jones Emergency Clinic in Veracruz, Mexico. Dr. Jones was also a charter member of Physicians for Human Rights, which won the Nobel Peace Prize, and she served as the Chief of the medical staff at Riverside General Hospital in Houston.
In 1986, the City of Houston honored Dr. Jones with “Edith Irby Jones Day” and then two years later, she was named American Society of Medicine Internist of the Year. Later in 1998, the ambulatory center at the former Southeast Memorial Hospital was named after her.
Dr. Jones served the residents of Houston at her medical practice at 2601 Prospect Street in Third Ward for over 50 years, before finally retiring.
Dr. Jones was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. James B. Jones, former Dean of Texas Southern University’s College of Education. She leaves to mourn her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other family members, friends, colleagues and members of the community who were impacted by her life.
It is always important to remember those who have served as motivation and inspiration for others to do be able to do what they do. We, at the Forward Times, honor and celebrate the life and legacy of a trailblazing woman who served as a true example of what it takes to make an impact on your community, be a public servant, stand up for what is right, overcome adversity and inspire others to be great.
Rest well, Dr. Edith Irby Jones!
Dr. Jones was a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in honor of Dr. Edith Irby Jones to:
Dr. Richard Allen Williams, Genita Evengelistic Johnson, AMA Foundation Scholarship. Donations can be made online via website.
Antioch Educational Scholarship Foundation
AESFonline.org or AESF, PO Box 981, Houston, TX 77002
Houston Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter Physical & Mental Health Program
Payments can be made via PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org or HMAC, c/o Dr. Edith Irby Jones PMH, PO Box 57108, Houston, TX 77256.
JUL 26. 11:00 AM – 4:30 PM (CDT)
Rose Chapel @ Mabrie Memorial Mortuary
5000 Almeda Road
Houston, TX, 77004
Wake – JUL 26. 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM Antioch Missionary Baptist Church 500 Clay Street Houston, TX, 77002
Omega Omega Service by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. – JUL 26. 7:00 PM Antioch Missionary Baptist Church 500 Clay Street Houston, TX, 77002
Visitation – JUL 27. 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM Antioch Missionary Baptist Church 500 Clay Street Houston, TX, 77002
Celebration of Life Service – JUL 27. 11:00 AM Antioch Missionary Baptist Church 500 Clay Street Houston, TX, 77002