RIP: Former Grace Cathedral Dean Alan Jones dies at 83

Posted Jan 23, 2024

[Grace Cathedral] The Very Rev. Alan William Jones, 83, dean emeritus of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California has died after a long illness. He is survived by his wife, Virginia “Cricket” Price Jones, and his three children, Lena Roy, Charlotte Voiklis, and Edward Jones.

Jones served as Grace Cathedral’s seventh dean for 24 years, from 1985 to 2009. A formidable, bearded figure when he first appeared at Grace Cathedral, Jones was one of the leading experts on Christian spirituality in The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion, known for his blend of Anglican tradition, progressive theology and English wit. He also loved to travel and especially enjoyed swimming.

Alan Jones

Dean Alan Jones led Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California, fro 1985 to 2009. Photo: Grace Cathedral

During his long tenure as dean, Jones led major transformations to San Francisco’s iconic cathedral with its staff and congregation that further cemented Grace’s position as the “cathedral for all” in the city. These included:

  • Construction of the Interfaith AIDS Chapel, one of a handful of places in the world dedicated to the people impacted by AIDS.
  • The beginning of the modern labyrinth movement in 1991 and the creation of two Chartres-style labyrinths, one indoor and the other outdoors. These are visited by thousands of people from around the world all year long.
  • The inauguration of the Chapel of St. Francis and Columbarium
  • Following the 1989 earthquake, Jones presided over the building campaign and the completion of the cathedral close, with a new Chapter House, front stairway courtyard, garage, and Diocesan House extension.

A highlight of his term was the 1995 United Nations 50th Anniversary Service at Grace Cathedral, which featured United Nations leaders and international heads of state, including Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Polish leader Lech Walesa, and Princess Margaret of Britain.

An accomplished and prolific author, Jones wrote many books, notably “Passion for Pilgrimage,” “Soul Making” and “Reimagining Christianity.”

Born March 5, 1940, and raised in Wimbledon, a suburb of London, England, Jones’s first memories were of ruined buildings after German bombers raided the British capital during the Blitz. As a chorister of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, he sang at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

He attended the University of Nottingham, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1963, and graduated from General Theological Seminary in New York in 1965. After serving in England in 1965-66, he came to the United States and married Josephine M. Franklin in 1966. They had three children: Lena, Charlotte, and Edward.

Jones was received into The Episcopal Church as a priest in 1967 by Bishop Horace Donegan of New York. He served at St. Hilda & St. Hugh School, New York and assisted at St. Ignatius Church. He earned a PhD from the University of Nottingham in 1971 and then was associate director of Trinity Institute, New York, from 1971-73.

Jones was the founding director of the Center for Christian Spirituality at the General Theological Seminary in 1973. He became an American citizen in 1975. Having divorced, Jones married Price in 1999 at Chartres Cathedral. Jones was made a member of the Order of the British Empire in 2002.