Arts Devotee and Generous Supporter of Theatre at Wellesley Remembered in Joyous Event

December 13, 2013

On Sunday, December 8, the Wellesley community gathered together to celebrate the life, work, and generosity of Ruth Nagel Jones ’42. Jones, for whom the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre is named, passed away in June of this year.

“She had lived a great life, and [did] a lot of good things,” said Nora Hussey, director of Wellesley's Theatre Studies Program. In addition to being an ardent champion of Wellesley College, Jones was a founding member of the Blue Ribbon, a group that supports The Music Center of Los Angeles, and was a member of The Colleagues, a Santa Monica-based charity that supports care for abused and neglected children.

“We were just very lucky that she came to us in 1992 and stayed with us well into the future,” mused Hussey. “We would be very, very small and insignificant if she hadn’t been the guardian angel that she was for us.”

The celebration was held in the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, one of Jones’s generous gifts to Wellesley College. Both current and past students, faculty, and community members celebrated Ruth Nagel Jones’s life by sharing their memories of her and the legacy she left.

Hussey added that the event was “truly joyous” and “could not have gone better.” One current student spoke of the importance of the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre to her, calling it “a home away from home.” Family members also attended the event, including Jones’s goddaughter, an acting teacher from Los Angeles. Inspired by the warm atmosphere and the abundance of Jones’s favorite flower that decorated the theatre, she concluded the event by directing everyone in creating a “human sunflower” on the ballroom floor.

Ruth Margaret Nagel was born in 1920 to silent film star Conrad Nagel and Ruth Helms Nagel. Her father was a founder of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, serving as its third president. She graduated from Wellesley in 1942 with a major in English. She married her husband of 67 years, Thomas Victor Jones, in 1946. Carrying with her the same passion for the arts as her father, she provided endless support to Wellesley’s theatre program and funded the construction of the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre, giving a home to both professional and student productions. She is survived by her husband, their daughter Ruth Marilyn Jones, son Peter Thomas Jones, and granddaughters Annie and Rosie Jones.

“It was a lovely and celebratory event that brought laughter and tears in equal measure. We saw students past and present and heard stories of life in the RNJ over the years. I'm fairly sure Ruth was in the wings somewhere delighting in it all," said Hussey.

For those who could not attend or would like to remember the event, a recording and photographs of Sunday’s celebration will be released and made available to the public.