Friday, November 13, 2015

Celebrating a life lived with gusto on a tenth anniversary

Bill Jones was a wonderful painter, whose one-man shows drew crowds
in Phoenix and Los Angeles galleries.  Here is a favorite self-portrait.

Here's looking at you, kid:

Artist, writer, traveler, funny guy 



A DECADE HAS elapsed since Billy’s passing. This week, we celebrate his rich, but brief life:
Bill and Cookie traveled the world,
here in Portugal in 1997.
          BILL WAS BORN in Indiana and liked to say he moved his parents to Arizona when he was not quite a year old. He considered himself a native Arizonan and wrote and painted the desert with affection.
         He was a curious global citizen, an enthusiastic world traveler, always up for a trip, a new adventure.
         Bill Jones, Cookie, researching their novel
      He drew marvelous comics and stories from an early age. His mum, Katie, recalled that she would often pull him from his art for a meal.  He was a lifelong devotee of museums and art.     
HE GREW up playing in the desert, loved to hike and remembered running barefoot  to escape the wrath of an irate farmer when he and his buddies snitched a watermelon.
Despite chemotherapy and radiation which took the usual toll, Bill Jones, left,
continued to travel, here cruising the Caribbean with Cookie
and his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Misha and David Minesinger.
          He served in the U.S. Army in Korea, where his charm and good looks earned him a high prestige job of driver for the General's wife.  He was a proud member of the color guard. 
·       HE EARNED a B.A. in English with
      a philosophy minor.  He was a fine
      poet who also wrote and co-wrote several novels, including “Lilian’s
      Last Dance,” which he and Cookie began in the 1990s and Cookie 
      revised and published in 2014.
·       He marched to his own drummer, “cut his own trail,” as they say in Montana, his second home.
·       He wasn’t easily labeled – a truly original thinker – with a sharp 
      intellect and cutting ironical wit.
Billy's hair was growing back, when he was able to take a six-month
trip after his surgery and treatment for cancer in 2003-4. Here
he and Cookie enjoy a stroll through Central Park in New York.
·       His film reviews were concise, thoughtful and provocative, earning him a national reputation in his days with the Phoenix Gazette and Arizona Republic. He interviewed many 20th Century’s greats of film and theater, from Katharine Hepburn to Robert DeNiro to Meryl Streep. He liked interviewing directors and particularly appreciated Martin Scorsese.
        HE WAS a fan of John Updike’s writings and interviewed him twice, treasuring complimentary notes from his favorite writer.  He loved “Les Miserables,” Stephen Sondheim’s musicals, white wine and his retriever Ruth, who lived to be 17, "the longest relationship I had with a female."
        He had two sons whom he loved and influenced.  Christopher and Jason, both unique in their talents, pay honor to Bill’s memory in their love of family, art and the natural world.
Bill Jones with his grandson Rowan Jones, in the back
yard in Phoenix, where Billy spent his last days.
        His grandchildren didn’t have him very long, but he loved knowing that they were on the planet!
       Grandson, Rowan, visits “Bill’s Hill and “Grandpa’s Tree” in Sun Ray Park, Phoenix, keeping his memory alive.  Bill was a devoted brother to sisters Karen and Marcia.  He enjoyed “Siblings Night Out” and was proud to welcome daughters-in-law Katie and Carole
      to the family.
          HE MET Cookie on July 15, 1977, during a movie junket to London and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
      When their charter flight to England was delayed at JFK, Bill magically acquired a piano and Cookie
      played show tunes for a reception hosted by United Artists.  Bill and Cookie’s first husband, Bruce
     Meyers, became friends during film and theater
      outings. After Bruce’s death, Bill’s and Cookie’s friendship blossomed into romance and lasted until Bill’s final day a decade ago. He died, full circle, on 
     the desert he loved, as she played "It Had to Be You."
      Check out these links about the survival and 
      publication of the novel Bill co-wrote:
From Cygnet Theatre in Old Town to the Lyceum in Horton Plaza, home
to the San Diego Repertory Theatre, San Diego theater is lively
and first-rate. La Jolla Playhouse and North Coast Rep north of town are
also top ranked and offer varied, exciting seasons. More on this bounty soon.

THEATER ON TAP: Whereiscookie roams the globe, and occasionally offers personal pieces like the one today.  Next up is a look at the thriving theater scene in San Diego, where Cookie winters and happily indulges in the glut of theatrical riches. Saturday, we'll look at the splendid array of current offerings at La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Rep, Cygnet and North Coast Rep. Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out weekends and as the spirit moves us to share adventures, observations and photos. Check out our book tour:
Workshops, readings for "Lilian's Last Dance"


  1. This writer is a funny lady. I was laughing through my tears. What a gift to be able to celebrate through the sorrow.

  2. Palm Springs Arts PatronNovember 15, 2015 at 10:08 AM

    Interesting fellow. Nice memory of a guy who lived a full, interesting life.

  3. I lost my wife about the same time Mr. Jones passed. I regret that we did not "grab the gusto" during our retirement. This is a good endorsement for the "carpe diem" theory I have espoused intellectually. "Follow through" is my new motto. Thank you for encouraging me to get out there and live!