California couple's gift keeps on giving

California businessman Howard Jones

One TV program 30 years ago inspired a lifelong
commitment to St. Jude. California businessman
Howard Jones and his wife have established a trust
that helps provide for current and future needs.

One simple act has far-reaching consequences

Sometimes the flip of a switch can affect a person’s life forever. Such a situation occurred nearly 30 years ago, when Howard Jones came home from the office and turned on his TV set.

“My wife and I were watching a television show that featured Danny Thomas talking about St. Jude. It was one of his original promotions where he performed to solicit donors for the hospital,” Jones recalls. “We were so touched by the program that it brought tears to my wife’s eyes.”

That interlude in front of the television transformed the Joneses’ lives; their subsequent donations of time and money in turn have affected countless children suffering from catastrophic diseases. “We have been sold on the hospital since that first encounter and have continued to be supporters through the years,” says Jones, a real estate investor who lives in Santa Ana, California.

He later met the entertainer when Los Angeles County honored Thomas for his humanitarian work on behalf of children. Because of his prior involvement with St. Jude, Jones felt privileged to participate in the program. “It was so interesting to meet Danny. I could just see his commitment to the kids at St. Jude,” Jones says. “When he came to receive his award, he even brought a pair of shoes with him that represented the children who had walked in the Teenage March for St. Jude. He wanted to salute the kids from around the country who had participated in the walk. His dedication was unbelievable.”

Each visit to St. Jude reminds Jones of that special day, because the plaque awarded to Thomas by L.A. County hangs in the Danny Thomas/ALSAC Pavilion. The words imprinted on the plaque have special meaning to Jones because he wrote them.

Some people might not understand why a person who lives in California would support a hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, but Jones understands that St. Jude research findings help children everywhere. That is one reason he has embraced the hospital as one of his most important causes. He and his wife have established a trust that helps provide for the hospital’s current and future needs.

After years of involvement with the hospital, Jones continues to hold a special place in his heart for the children of St. Jude, whose courage never ceases to amaze him. “The kids are so enthusiastic, and the personalization of care provided by the doctors to each child is beyond anything offered at other hospitals,” Jones says. “Because of the vast research being conducted at St. Jude, I feel that if I needed help I could put my grandchildren in the hands of St. Jude and not have to worry.”

The click of a switch—it might just affect the lives of generations to come.


Summer 2002