Grambling State University Librarian Emerita, Hazel Johnson Jones, celebrated her centennial birthday with a program held at New Rocky Valley Baptist Church on Sunday afternoon.
Celebrating a Century of Blessings was the theme for the commemoration. A host of Jones’ relatives, friends, former co-workers, church members and sorority sisters traveled to Grambling for this special occasion.
Jones’ nieces shared with the guests many of their happy memories they have about their Aunt Hazel.
Sophia Jenkins, the oldest daughter of Jones’ youngest sister, Stella Mason, said, “We are thankful to be here to celebrate Aunt Hazel. Our parents sent us here (GSU) to be with Aunt Hazel.”
Mason recounted the time when she decided to wear and an afro and hot pants. She said Jones put her in her car, made her change her clothes and took her to Jones’ hairdresser.
“I could not have been where I am today, were it not for a supportive family and Grambling College. Thank you for honoring Aunt Hazel, and the Deltas are in the house,” said Mason.
According to Angela Mason, Jones inspired them to become members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., which was founded the same year Jones was born.
Jones touched the lives of all she encountered in a special way. The one thing that her family members attribute to her is their passion for reading. Her nieces said Jones sent them books as gifts.
“We owe a great deal of our lives to Aunt Hazel. She always gave us books. She introduced me to Toni Morrison, my favorite author,” said Christina Mason Johnson.
Claire Mason Lee said they always looked forward to the gifts of books, and their love of reading came from these gifts. She said, “When we got older and she gave us jewelry and money, we said, ‘Where are the books?'”
Mary Ann Woods, who owned the bookstore where Jones purchased the books, said, “I am happy to meet all of you. I sold her those books.”
Before she was a librarian, Jones taught in Port Gibson, Miss. Guest Josephine Dobbins Hosey said of her first-grade teacher, “She was kind. She expected of us certain things, and we did them.”
Host, Willie Washington, read a proclamation from GSU president, Dr. Frank G. Pogue, and greetings from Senator Mary Landrieu. Dr. Mildred Gallot read one from her son, Louisiana State Senator Richard Gallot Jr.
“I have known Mrs. Jones for years and years. She has been here for over 50 years. She is always positive, delightful and cheerful,” said Dr. Gallot.
Grambling’s mayor, Edward Jones presented her with a plaque acknowledging her dedicated service to the Grambling community as an outstanding educator, community activist and devout Christian.
Mayor Jones told her it is a blessing from God to be 100 years old. He jokingly added that those who have the most birthdays live the longest.
Louisiana State Representative Patrick Jefferson also recognized Jones’ many years of service to the university and community.
Jones began working at GSU in 1949 and retired from the university in 1974. Her mentee, Pauline Lee, said she worked with Jones for 19 years but has known her for 58 years.
Lee said, “She groomed me, taught me, and made me the librarian that I was. She was resourceful. Students loved her. Faculty adored her, and administrators felt like they couldn’t do without her. Whatever I am today, I contribute to her.”