September 16, 1929–November 12, 2016

We are deeply saddened by the recent loss of one of our Women in Focus Founding Members, Gloria Jones-Bey. Gloria was a caring professional, a member of the Madison community who worked tirelessly to help others, a beloved and highly valued teacher and a loving friend. She led a vibrant and interesting life, filled with many joys including her family, her profession, music, art, travel, and volunteering.

Gloria was born in Crawfordsville, Georgia, and then was raised and educated in Brooklyn, New York. As a young medical technician, she was accidentally exposed to tuberculosis germs.

After she contracted tuberculosis, she underwent the removal of one lung and a three-year period of recovery in a sanatorium. It was extraordinarily difficult to beat tuberculosis, but Gloria prevailed. Her experiences inspired her to obtain a Bachelors Degree in Nursing. She then embarked on a 25 year, very impressive career in nursing administration. She came to Madison in 1978 and worked for many years as Vice President of Patient Care at Meriter Hospital. She advocated for nurses and worked diligently for quality nursing care. She also served an assistant clinical professor of nursing at the University of Wisconsin School of Nursing. After she retired the first time, Gloria began teaching at Edgewood College where she helped develop Edgewood’s Graduate Nursing Program. She went on to teach undergrads at Madison College in the Business Program and was still teaching and mentoring these students at the time of her death.

Gloria received many honors and awards in her lifetime, including the 2000 Dane County Athena Award, the Urban League Whitney Young Award for Public Service, the UW School of Nursing Community Nurse Award, and the 1993 YWCA’s Woman of Distinction Award. In 2013 she was honored with Edgewood College’s prestigious Mazzuchelli Medallion.

Gloria was a founding member of Women in Focus, Inc. and remained active in the organization from 1983 until her death. The mission of Women in Focus is to promote educational excellence for children and youth of color in the Madison Community. Gloria was a powerful advocate for our mission and a powerful force within Women in Focus, holding over the years the offices of President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, as well as Chair of almost every committee! Gloria was instrumental in the decision in 1986 to begin holding our annual Scholarship Ball in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. As of 2016, the Ball proceeds have funded over $412,000 in scholarships for 287 deserving students.

Gloria researched and drafted the paperwork and bylaws to obtain our Women in Focus’ 501(c)(3) status as a non-profit organization, and she reminded us often over the years about being true to our mission and bylaws.

Gloria was an advocate for the decision to fund our Women in Focus Scholarship Endowment Fund at the Madison Community Foundation. Our Endowment is now producing the income to fund a $2000 scholarship annually in perpetuity.

Gloria Jones Bey was a remarkable woman: energetic, elegant, highly intelligent, courageous and deeply committed to her work. She had high expectations for herself and for others. She was also charming, loving and empathetic. She laughed and she cried but never gave up. She overcame so many challenges and turned them into victories. She blazed the trail for us in Women in Focus and her memory now inspires us to do our best to fill her shoes as we carry on the work of Women in Focus.

We will not forget you, Gloria Jones Bey.