Ethel Ann (Gonda) Jones, 93, passed away peacefully in Colorado Springs, on March 30, 2014, surrounded, in the hours before her passing, by her husband of 69 years, William T. Jones, and her loving family.
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Ethel was born in Youngstown, Ohio to John and Elizabeth (Phillips) Gonda. Ethel was the third daughter in a family of ten girls. After graduating from the Youngstown Hospital School of Nursing in 1942, where she was president of her class, Ethel immediately joined the Army Nursing Corps. She went on to serve as a Combat Nurse during World War II in a station hospital in Kermatola, Bengal Province, India (now Bangladesh.)
Prior to her overseas deployment, Lt. Gonda was stationed at Camp Breckenridge, Kentucky where some of her patients were German POWs. During basic training in California, she crawled beneath live machine gun fire and scaled a ship on a rope ladder. From California, she embarked on a troop ship as one of ten nurses among 4,000 troops. Changing course to avoid naval battles, Ethel's ship crossing took 52 days, stopping in Hobart and Perth, Australia before disembarking in Bombay, India. Ethel traveled by train across the subcontinent arriving in Kermatola on the east coast of India in January of 1943.
It was there that she met her future husband, Lt. William T. Jones, of Brooklyn, New York, an Army Air Corps pilot. After dating for four months they became engaged, but had to wait two years for permission to marry from the China, Burma, India Theater Commander General "Vinegar" Joe Stillwater. Their request was twice denied, as the Army was in desperate need of nurses. Not until Stillwater was replaced did permission to marry come through. However, it came with the proviso that one of them must leave the theater of war within 30 days. Bill had flown over 100 missions without respite, more than three times the norm, in order to stay near Ethel. They were married May 1, 1945 in a Carmelite convent chapel in Calcutta, India, and spent their honeymoon on a houseboat on Dal Lake in Kashmir. Bill departed India on June 1. What was expected to be a four-year separation, as each would continue in the war effort, was shortened to only four months when the war in the Pacific came to an unexpected end.
Ethel was a devoted wife and companion as she moved 18 times in the 30 years of her husband's military career. Together they raised six children who survive: William T. Jones Jr. (wife Meg); Judith Crusius (husband James); Peter Jones (deceased); John Jones (wife Anne); Michael Jones; Cynthia Landsberg (husband Bill); Mary Beth Wilson (husband Thomas) all of Monument and Colorado Springs, Colorado. She is also survived by six sisters: Theresa Vukovich of Phoenix, AZ; Mary Haggerty of Westminster, MD; Betty Terpak of Youngstown, OH; Kay Strok of Covina, CA; Madge Kincaid of Roswell, NM; and Patty Antram of Alamogordo, NM; as well as thirteen grandchildren, and seven great grandchildren.
Ethel moved to the Woodmoor community in 1971 where she lived for 43 years. She was co-chairman of St. Peter Women's Guild and served on the Parish Council. She was also active in golf, bridge, and was a member of the Tri Lakes Women's Club. Ethel was a remarkable member of the "Greatest Generation," an extraordinary woman who lived an adventurous life. She performed her duties at home and abroad with dignity and grace and was devoted to her Catholic faith and to her family.
A Memorial Mass will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, April 3, 2014 at St. Peter Catholic Church, 55 Jefferson Street, Monument, CO 80132. A reception will follow the services at the church.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to St. Peter's Catholic Church.
Online Condolences: ShrineOfRemembrance.com
Published in The Gazette on Apr. 1, 2014