Douglas William Jones, archaeologist for the State Historical Society of Iowa (SHSI), died unexpectedly of natural causes on November 10th at his home in Mitchellville. Doug was born September 15, 1966 in Iowa City to John Wesley (Jack) (now deceased) and Caroline Hartwig Jones. Two years later, his sister Ellen completed the family. When Doug was six, the family moved back to the Jones family farm near Olin in Jones County.
His father, a math and computer science teacher at Davenport West High School, set high academic standards that Doug exceeded by graduating with honors in 1985. As a high school freshman, Anthropology became his teenage ambition after attending a Nobel conference entitled “Darwin’s Legacy” where he was influenced by three world renowned scientists Richard Leaky, Stephen J. Gould, and E.O. Wilson.
Doug crafted his enthusiasm for Anthropology into an implement of academic precision under the watchful eyes of Professors David Gradwohl and Mike Warren at Iowa State University. It was with that tool that Doug would fashion a professional life of ethical purpose. He graduated with honors in Anthropology with a minor in American Indian Studies in 1989 at ISU and went on to receive a Master’s degree in Anthropology at the University of Iowa specializing in the Paleoethnobotany of the Mill Creek Culture of Iowa.
An insightful leader and advocate, Doug served as president of the Iowa Archaeological Society and was a member in good standing throughout his professional career. He was a member of the Association of Iowa Archaeologists and served as SHSI’s representative on numerous boards, committees, and council’s including the Governor’s Indian Advisory Council to the State Archaeologist, and Cedar Valley Iris and Daylily Society.
In his twenty-one years as a State employee, Doug often threatened to quit and return to Davenport and Whitey’s Ice Cream. But he stayed, bravely jumping into many heated preservation battles. Dan Higgin bottom, Doug’s compatriot, remembers “Doug had a deep respect for preservation law and always promoted its fair and common-sense application.”
In the last few years Doug championed the study of the Underground Railroad in Iowa after the retirement of colleague, historian Lowell Soike. He then spread his own passion of the subject to local volunteers throughout the State.
Doug earned the respect and trust of the Native American community, who knew him as a guardian of their sacred places. He in turn was grateful to them for guiding his own spiritual understanding and appreciation of the natural world.
Sports, hobbies, and pets abounded. The family followed the Chicago Bears on WHBF TV out of Rock Island, Illinois. Doug also shared the family’s passion for Hemerocallis (Daylily) having a wonderful photographic eye, he captured stunning photographic images of his award-winning flowers and generously took pictures for other Daylily fanciers.
Brady, his cat, insisted Doug arrange his life to suit Brady’s MANY feline needs. Doug had a prodigious appetite for learning that he doled out to everyone in generous portions. He was a big guy with an even bigger infectious laugh. He believed in Big Foot and joked that he looked part Sasquatch himself. Like his mother, he could strike up a conversation with anyone – and frequently did!
Doug was a proud descendant of the ancient Jones Clan. He was a past president of the Celtic Music Association, and a self-styled wild Welshman full of fun with a knowledge that blended legends, myths and science into a delightful personality.
All of Doug’s friends, family, and colleagues will dearly miss him. As Doug’s archaeological colleague, Jerome Thompson noted, “Doug’s passing has left a deep hole that can never be backfilled.” Those left behind to cherish his memory include, his mother, Caroline; sister, Ellen; beloved cat, Brady J.; uncle, Wayne (Sherry) Hartwig and family; and aunt, Gwenn Vrooman and family. Services were held November 20, 2016, at St. John Lutheran Church in Olin, Iowa. A Celebration of Life was held in Des Moines on December 4. Memorials may be directed to the Doug W. Jones Memorial Fund to St. John Lutheran Church, 411 Walnut Street in Olin care of Caroline Jones.