A long family history of academic excellence at Rhodes University

Judge Johnathan “Jos” Jones
Judge Johnathan “Jos” Jones

Old Rhodian Judge Johnathan “Jos” Jones, who recently turned 79, shared the story of his family legacy at Rhodes University, starting with his parents, who met at the University in the 1930s.

Judge Jones drew a lot of inspiration from his father, Professor Bobby Jones, who was a Lecturer and Associate Professor at Rhodes for many years. “My father inspired many students to join law, become lawyers and to stay with law. He was magnificent in his teaching.”

Judge Jones’ lifelong relationship with Rhodes University began as a student. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1961 and a Bachelor of Laws (cum laude) in 1963. Professors Kerr and McKerron were both active Law Professors at Rhodes University at this time, Judge Jones recalled.

“I enjoyed my first year and, in fact, all of my other years at Rhodes University,” he said.

In later years, when Professor McKerron started falling ill, Judge Jones took over some of his law lectures for him. “I also really enjoyed that part of my career,” he said.

Judge Jones started a career as an advocate at the Grahamstown Bar in 1964. He served on the High Court bench from 1986 until his retirement in 2010, playing an increasingly influential role as a judge in the Eastern Cape over the years and particularly since the advent of democracy.

Rhodes University was honoured to have him on as Chair of Council and a member of Rhodes Board of Governors for 20 long years (1994 to 2014).

His dedication to the University and his distinguished career in the South African legal system earned him a Distinguished Old Rhodian Award in 2014.

Other family members have also walked the Rhodes University path. Judge Jones’ sisters Diana, Valerie, Rosalind and Mary, and his brothers Michael and Phillip also studied at the University. His eldest son, Sean, is another old Rhodian.

“And my son, Cliff, has been a stalwart at Rhodes University – he has been there longer than I have,” he said. Judge Jones’ son, Professor Cliff Jones, is the proposed new incoming Head of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University. Of his son’s achievements, Judge Jones said, “He is a very good academic and I am proud of him.”

“Rhodes University was a wonderful place to have lived and studied, and I have so much love for it, I found it difficult to move on from there. People that I worked with and sat with on Council were all wonderful people. I think Rhodes University is a better place for the people who have been and are currently in its service,” he said.

In acknowledgement of this family’s tremendous contribution to Rhodes University over the years, a plaque in front of the clock tower was placed in memory of the first generation of Jones’ at the University – and includes the names of all their Old Rhodian descendants and their spouses up to 2009.