Ina Herold Jones, noted writer and Cobleskill’s poet laureate since 2010, died on October 22 after a brief illness. She was 99.
Born in the rural eastern German village of Unterrissdorf, Ina immigrated to the United States in 1928 with her parents Frederick and Martha Herold. Ina vividly recalled her German childhood, her eighth birthday celebration aboard the ship SS Berlin and the challenges of her first weeks of school in New Jersey, when she knew not a word of English. Her father, a master carpenter, faced unemployment during the Great Depression, so he took up farming in upstate New York. Ina graduated from Delhi High School, then worked as a secretary in the school office for two years to earn money for college. A few months before her 1943 graduation from Ryder College in Trenton, NJ, she met her future husband Robert Kilbourne Jones at a USO dance. The couple married in 1945 and lived in New York City, where Ina worked as secretary to the director at the National Boy Scout Headquarters while Robert served in the Army during World War II.
The Joneses later moved to Cobleskill, Robert’s hometown, where they welcomed daughter Deborah in 1950 and remained for the rest of their lives. Robert worked for Cobleskill’s First National Bank (later Key Bank), retiring as branch manager in 1979. A devoted wife and mother, Ina served the community as a Brownie and Girl Scout leader and as a member of the New Century Club, the Topaz Unit of the hospital auxiliary and the Cobleskill United Methodist Church, where she taught Sunday School, was active in the Women’s Society of Christian Service and – as the only member of the congregation who could take minutes in shorthand – served as secretary of the board for many years. She also was a member of the Beard’s Hollow Society which supports the Beard’s Hollow Church and helps prepare it for worship services each August.
Ina returned to work in 1967 when she accepted a position at SUNY Cobleskill. She was serving as secretary to the director of the nursery education division when she retired in 1982.
Ina was a lifelong poet and author, and her poetry, short fiction and memoirs appeared in such diverse publications as Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal magazines, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cornell University’s Epoch, Bucknell University’s West Branch, Glens Falls Review, Cape Rock, Blue Line and Sing, Heavenly Muse!, as well as anthologies from Greenfield Review Press and Bright Hill Press. She was awarded a residency at Blue Mountain Center, participated in a Chenango Valley Writers’ Conference at Colgate University and was a featured reader at a Bucknell University poetry festival. Closer to home, Ina did poetry readings at the Windfall Dutch Barn in Salt Springville each summer, and she was an invited reader at venues in Cobleskill, Schoharie, Andes, Oneonta and Cooperstown.
Ina was a member of the Central New York Writers’ Group and a founding member of the Schoharie County Arts Council, for which she once hosted best-selling author Barbara Kingsolver on an overnight stay at her home after Kingsolver’s Council-sponsored reading.
Ina’s love for the arts inspired numerous trips to New York or Broadway plays and ballet performances, and she held season tickets to Cooperstown’s Glimmerglass Opera for many years. Well into her 80’s, Ina honed her craft in writing workshops, performed comic roles in two Cobleskill community theater productions and taught poetry workshops sponsored by Programs for Seniors of Otsego County. Ina’s poetry book, A Final Wine, was published in 2001. She loved introducing children to literature and earned rave reviews from the fourth-grade poetry class she taught in 2016 at Richmondville’s Joseph B. Radez Elementary School. Ina was still at work on a memoir entitled The Golden Time until a few months before her death.
More than 100 people attended Ina’s 90th birthday celebration at her church in 2010, and she was honored with an official proclamation from the Village Board naming her Cobleskill’s first poet laureate. State Assemblyman Pete Lopez and Mayor Ted Brinkman were among the event’s speakers, and Lopez presented Ina with an honorary citation. U. S. Representative Paul Tonka and Ina’s friends and relatives from across the country and from her German homeland sent congratulatory notes and reminiscences for a “memory book” she proudly displayed on her coffee table. Despite her many successful publications and honors, Ina was always genuinely surprised and grateful when people complimented her work.
Preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Ina is survived by her daughter Deborah (William) Jones of Denver, CO; granddaughter Kaitlin Jones (Frank) Jadwin and great granddaughter Ina Grace Jadwin of Minnetonka, MN; cousins Linda Vanderbeck of San Diego, CA, and Mary Jane Halstead (Ray) of Laurens, NY; Robert’s cousins Kilbourne Keith Rugg (Joanna) and Sarah Phillips (Sally Ann Miller) of Houghton, NY and the neighbors, devoted caregivers, fellow writers and many other friends who became dearer to Ina with each passing year.
A funeral service will be held at the Cobleskill United Methodist Church at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 26, followed by private burial at the Cobleskill Rural Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Ina’s name are invited to the Cobleskill United Methodist Church, Kaitlin’s nonprofit Clothes To Kids of Denver (www.clothestokidsdenver.org) or a charity of your choice.
Arrangements have been entrusted to Mereness-Putnam Funeral Home, 171 Elm St., Cobleskill.
To send flowers to Ina's family, please visit our floral section.
Cobleskill United Methodist Church
107 Chapel St., Suite 1, Cobleskill NY 12043
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