Former Grey Cloud resident Phyllis Jones recalled for legal career, interest in history
Phyllis Jones, a former resident of Grey Cloud Island Township who had a distinguished legal career and was involved in local history and DFL politics, died Sept. 8. She was 90.
Jones was a township resident from the early 1970s until four years ago when she moved to North Oaks, where she died after a recent series of strokes. A service was held at Unity Unitarian Church in St. Paul.
“She was a classy lady,” said Alice Robinson, of St. Paul Park, who was close friends with Jones.
Robinson said she was grateful for Jones’ help when the South Washington Heritage Society was being organized.
“She was so supportive,” Robinson said, and worked behind the scenes to help with the paperwork to become a non-profit organization. The society sent 150 letters to people with an interest in local history and Jones paid the postage and printing, Robinson said.
Jones also supported the Washington County and state historical societies, and was involved in Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party politics as a volunteer.
A native of North Dakota, Jones graduated from Harding High School.
Byron Robinson, Alice’s husband, also went to Harding. “Phyllis was very smart,” he recalled.
She was a Macalester College and William Mitchell College graduate and the first woman to be an assistant Ramsey County attorney.
She married Dwight Jones, a Pioneer Press managing editor, in 1945 and worked as a news reporter for a short time. He died in 1958.
In 1970, she married Dr. David Norman and lived in Grey Cloud. He died in 1983.
Jones was also elected to the town board and presided over skirmishes with the J.L. Shiely Co., which had mines in the township.
Jones, during a re-zoning hearing for the company that attracted regional media attention, did “a great job” of presiding and had the courage to urge the board to reject the zoning, according to township resident Tom Bell.
At the same time, until 1983, Jones was in private practice in Cottage Grove and St. Paul Park until Mike Sieben, a state representative at the time, nominated her to become a district court judge in Washington County. She served until 1993.
Jones was buried in the Grey Cloud Island Township Cemetery on Sept. 13, in a grave dug by her former neighbors, Tom Bell and Rich Mullen.
Memorials should be sent to Minnesota Parks and Trails, Washington County Historical Society and Unity Church.