Donna Leach Jones
Donna Jones, a pianist and organist, is widely known for her artistry on both instruments and her work with her husband Monty in evangelism. They were associated with leading Seventh-day Adventist evangelists in countless crusades in the last half of the 20th century.
Donna was born in Paradise Valley, California, and raised in the Portland, Oregon, area. From her earliest years, she displayed unusual musical talent, possessing perfect pitch and demonstrating an unusual aptitude for piano. Before the age of nine she was playing for church services and at age nine provided the background music for a wedding.
She studied piano at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, for five years and organ with C. Warren Becker for three and one-half years, while attending Pacific Union College. She met Monty Jones, a talented singer and guitarist, while attending PUC where both were active in music. A week after he graduated with a theology degree in 1957, they married.
They taught for a year in a church school in Nevada and then accepted an invitation to move to Oregon, where Monty worked as a pastor and singing evangelist and she assisted as pianist and organist. Seven months later, they became full-time music evangelists and assisted a number of evangelists beginning with Clifton Walter, working in the Northwest, California, Indiana, Texas, and Canada. In Canada Monty served in the Alberta Conference as Ministerial Secretary and Co-ordinator of Evangelism, a position he held for two years before they returned to California, where they pastored in Tracy and Lodi until retirement.
The Joneses were popular Chapel Records recording artists with ten records to their credit. Six records featured Monty either singing tenor or playing guitar, with Donna providing organ and piano accompaniment. Donna also released three solo albums of organ music. One record, The Happy Side of Life, released in 1972, featured Monty and Donna with their three children - Marilynn, David, and Gregory.
Donna arranged some of the music they used and also composed music that was included on their records. She managed all of this in the midst of the stress of being part of a musical team in evangelism and having to care for and, on occasion, home school three children. Monty would later write in a record liner a tribute about Donna's dedication and attitude:
When a person will go to an evangelistic meeting so ill that after playing the organ to start the meeting she has to lie on the bench until it is time to close the meeting, that's dedication. When a person has [her talents] and dedication but doesn't think either is unusual, that's humility. Certainly there are others who have perfect pitch, those who are unusually dedicated to the cause, and some who are truly humble. But when one has great talent, super dedication, and unusual humility, that's rare, and that's Donna.
Monty and Donna retired to Arizona in 1995. Monty died in 2005, at age 72. Donna currently resides in Gresham, Oregon.
Sources: Information provided by Donna Leach Jones and Marilynn Jones Venden, May 2011; Record Liners and advertisements; Southwestern Union Record, 23 October 1971; Gary Venden, August 2011.
Jesus, Name I LoveDonna-Leach Jones, organist, Chapel Records #S4005
I'm Looking Today for HimMonty Jones, tenor and Donna Jones, accompaniment, Chapel Records #S5091
I Know Who Holds TomorrowMonty Jones, guitar and Donna Jones, organ, Chapel Records #S5096
I Never Walk AloneDonna Jones, organ and piano, Chapel Records #S5103
Love Lifted MeMonty Jones, guitar and Donna Jones, organ, Chapel Records #S5130
Be Still and KnowDonna Jones, organ, Chapel Records #S5136
The Happy Side of LifeThe Monty and Donna Jones Family, Chapel/Bridge Records #S2239 (1972)
I’ve Discovered the Way of GladnessMonty Jones, Guitar; Donna Jones, Piano and Organ – Chapel Records #5217 (1973)
Somebody Bigger than You and IDonna Jones, organ, Chapel Records #S5246 (1974)
God is so WonderfulMonty and Donna Jones, Chapel Records