Janice C. Jones, 53, a longtime Toledo Public Schools teacher and administrator, died Monday in St. Luke's Hospital, where she had been about a week.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer years ago, her older sister, Dianne L. Parr, said.
Mrs. Jones, who lived in Maumee, worked until this month as a Reading First program director for the school system.
She was an educator for 30 years, a career that to her was a calling because she felt she could be of service to people who were struggling.
"She had such a big caring and giving heart," said Pamela Knox, principal at Toledo's Glendale-Feilbach Elementary School who had known Mrs. Jones for 25 years.
Mrs. Jones's first teaching job was in Decatur, Ga., east of Atlanta, where she was a reading and math specialist from 1975 to 1977.
She started with the Toledo Public Schools in 1977 and was a reading specialist at Start High School, then at Scott High School until 1984.
She taught sixth grade at Keyser Elementary from 1984 to 1991, then moved into administration.
Mrs. Jones was an assistant principal at McKinley Elementary and an acting principal at several schools before becoming principal at Mount Vernon Elementary in 1992.
She stayed there until 1997, when she became a curriculum specialist for the Rogers High School area.
She liked administration because she felt it was where she could touch the most lives, her sister said. She also enjoyed teaching so much - especially helping youth turn difficulties into skills - that she encouraged Ms. Parr to leave social work and become a teacher.
"She was a lifelong learner herself," Ms. Parr said.
A native of St. Louis, Mrs. Jones, the seventh of her family's nine children, graduated from the city's Sumner High School in 1969. She followed that with a bachelor's degree from Spelman College in Atlanta in 1973, a master's degree in education from Bowling Green State University in 1974, and a postgraduate degree from the University of Toledo in 1988.
Church was a big part of her life from the time she was a young girl, ushering and singing soprano in a Baptist church choir.
Most recently, she was a member of Word of Faith International Christian Center in the Detroit suburb of Southfield. She was involved with the bookstore in the church complex and helped teach Bible classes to nursing home residents and others who were unable to attend services.
Almost everywhere she went, she carried tracts explaining salvation through Christ. "She had a passion to try to help others lead a more spiritual life," her sister said.
When she listened to music, it was typically gospel or inspirational, and most of her personal library was made up of spiritual books.
"She loved books and she loved sharing books with other people - especially books about Jesus," her sister said.
Surviving are her husband, William J. Jones, Jr.; son, William; daughter, Katrina; brothers, John, Eddie, Marion, and James Cross, and sisters, Dianne L. Parr and Beverly Cross.
The body will be in the C. Brown Funeral Home Inc. chapel from 5 to 8 p.m. today. The funeral will be at noon tomorrow in Indiana Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, preceded by a family hour at 11 a.m.