Endowed Alaska scholarship honors the memory of Pampa educator JoAnn T. Jones

PLAINVIEW – JoAnn T. Jones, who once lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, and joked that she wanted to be “laid out on an iceberg and float to the Great Beyond” was memorialized in her hometown of Pampa recently with the presentation of an endowed scholarship benefitting students attending Wayland Baptist University’s Alaska campuses.

“I know she would be thrilled,” said Mike Davis, who remembered Jones as his teacher, school counselor and friend. “She would not tell you that because she didn’t like crowds, but she would be thrilled.”

Friends and family attended the presentation at White Deer Land Museum honoring Jones, who passed away Feb. 19, 2022. Davis, a Pampa resident, decided to honor his friend by establishing the JoAnn T. Jones Alaska Endowed Scholarship, his 13th endowed scholarship to the university.

“It means a lot that I can give back, and especially that I can honor a friend,” Davis said. “It was nice that we were able to honor JoAnn here in her hometown.”

Dr. Bobby Hall, President of Wayland Baptist University, spoke of Jones as a person who “had a servant’s heart and loved helping people” as he recalled her multiple ministries as well as her service on numerous boards.

“JoAnn had a deep and abiding respect for education and valued it greatly,” Hall said as he read from the inscription on the plaque to be displayed at the university. “She shared both the anticipation and the excitement of those striving to better themselves through education. This scholarship embodies JoAnn’s spirit of giving and her genuine desire to see others succeed by helping Wayland students at the Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses.”

Presenting the family’s response, Christie Demetriades said her mother “viewed education as the path to a better life. More opportunities were available to you if you had a degree, and she was always on the lookout to make that dream a reality for as many kids as she could, whether that was through counseling kids and their parents or simply providing a meal or a snack for hungry kids that came by each day. She always did what she could.”

Demetriades said her mother would “hate the attention this scholarship would bring to her but would love the fact that there is something in place to help kids in Alaska further their own education so that they can find a new path for themselves.”

Davis said he endowed a scholarship for Alaska students because Jones liked to hear about Wayland’s work in Alaska, especially in Fairbanks.

“This scholarship honors a friend of Wayland by helping students at the Alaska campuses,” he said. “She kept track of me and kept in touch though the decades. She believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. She cheered me on and lifted me up when my courage failed. JoAnn never dwelled on my fumbles, foibles, and faux pas. She looked to the good and put her heart into everything she did.”

In his remarks, Hall also praised Davis, whom he described as a “genuine article Pampa Harvester who is also a Wayland Baptist University Pioneer.” The President noted Davis recently earned Wayland’s highest distinction, the President’s Award.

“He has told me many times before that his desire is to pay back and pay forward those who provided and those who will need the educational support he needed when he came to Wayland from Pampa those many years ago,” Hall said.