Robert L. Jones, 78, of Kemah, Texas, died unexpectedly at home in the early morning hours of Saturday, February 27.
Born to Mary Carlton Jones and Leslie Jones on February 6, 1938, in Gainesville, Georgia, Robert grew up on Tybee Island, off Savannah, and in Dalton and Young Harris, small Methodist college towns in the mountains of north Georgia, where his parents were on the faculty. These experiences imbued in him a lifelong love of the sea and the mountains, of books and education.
He attended Emory University, left in 1960 to pursue an acting career in New York City, and was promptly drafted into the US Army. He served in a band unit in New Jersey, directing the award-winning Fort Dix Soldiers Chorus in 1963 and playing occasional jazz gigs. After honorable discharge, he completed his B.A. in English literature at Jacksonville University and went on to graduate school at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in English literature and met Anne Marie Hudson, whom he married on March 19, 1971, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He was a professor and chair of the English Department at Radford University in Radford, Virginia, until he moved to Galveston at the end of 1979.
As Humanist in Residence at the Rosenberg Library, 1980-82, Robert worked on a Texas Committee for the Humanities project to collect oral histories concerning Galveston since the 1900 storm and prepared a manuscript history of Galveston. Afterward, he worked as Coordinator of Academic Computer Services at Galveston College until he completed an M.S. in computer science at the University of Houston-Clear Lake in 1985. He changed his career focus from education to research in space sciences, working at the Lunar and Planetary Institute/Universities Space Research Association and for a succession of NASA contractors, including Northrop Services and Lockheed Engineering, and receiving individual, group, and team awards along the way.
In retirement, Robert wrote poetry, played chess, traveled the world, taught literature at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and studied and taught several languages on Duolingo. For many years he was an avid scuba diver and a member of the Mensa Scuba SIG.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, March 19, 11 am, at the Rothko Chapel, 1409 Sul Ross Street, Houston. In lieu of flowers, which are not permitted in the Rothko Chapel, memorials be made to the Galveston Bay Foundation or the donor’s favorite charity.