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Walter and Evan (Evie) Jones, the sons of Welsh parents, were reared on a farm north of Lebo, Kansas, in Coffey County. At the turn of the century, when the brothers inherited 200 acres of land, they began farming on their own and formed a partnership, Jones and Jones. When Walter married Olive Taylor in 1911, the partnership continued with three members. Walter took care of the buying and selling of cattle, Evan supervised the cowhands and oversaw the ranch work, and Olive kept the books.
Walter Jones died in early 1953, and Evan followed a few months later. Olive lived until 1957. With Olive's consent, the brothers had made identical wills. The wills provided that the Jones Estate be left in a trust and the income from the estate be used for providing medical assistance for needy children who reside in Lyon, Coffey, or Osage counties for a year prior to the beginning of benefits. Under discretionary powers of trust, education benefits were added in 1961. In 1974, the Walter S. Jones and Evan C. Jones Foundation was established to facilitate more thoughtful consideration and administration of grant requests.
The Teachers College at Emporia State University has benefited from the educational support of the Jones Foundation. In 1982, the university established the Center for Educational Research and Service to improve the support and visibility of field service efforts of The Teachers College. A 1987 grant from the Jones Foundation to the university helped to endow the Jones Distinguished University Professorship and the Jones Distinguished Lecture Program directed by the Center. In honor of the generous funding, the Center was renamed the Jones Institute for Educational Excellence. An additional grant from the Jones Foundation in 1995 funded the creation of the Jones Policy Center, assisted with the development of the W.S. and E.C. Jones Conference Center, and helped expand the Jones Distinguished Professorship.