It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of our matriarch, sister, and aunt, Dr. Hannah Abeodu Bowen-Jones on 9 July 2023. Dr. Jones was a pioneer in many aspects of her life, both domestically and internationally. She was born in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County, Republic of Liberia, the second child of Philip R.T. Bowen and Hannah Lucinda Benson Bowen on 23 March 1934. In Cape Mount, she attended Episcopal High School, graduating in 1952. She completed her Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in history at Cuttington College (University and Divinity School) in 1956. She later earned a scholarship to attend graduate school at Northwestern University earning both her master’s degree in African and World History in 1960 and subsequently her doctorate also in History in 1962. Not only is she the first person at Northwestern University to earn a doctoral degree in African History, but she is among the first women from the African continent to attain a terminal degree (Ph.D.). Additionally, she was the first woman in Liberia to earn a Ph.D. Following her graduation from Northwestern University, she completed a post-Doctoral study at the Rehovot Institute of Development Planning and Implementation in Rehovot, Israel, taught at the Liberian Foreign Service Institute and B.W. Harris Episcopal School. From 1979 to 1980, she was a Fulbright Scholar in the United States.
In Liberia, Dr. Jones applied herself diligently to the cause of advancing learning and development in Liberia. She taught history at the University of Liberia. Indeed, at one time she was the only faculty member in the History Department due to her being the only staff member with a doctorate. She would later become the Chairperson of the university’s Department of History. Not forgetting her beloved Cuttington University, she served as a Visiting Professor from 1980 to 1982. Internationally, she was the director of UNESCO’s oral history research on Liberia (1968-1972), and from 1980 to 1990 was a member of UNESCO’s General and Comprehensive History of Africa developing an eight-volume history of the continent.
Later in her academic career, she founded the Historical Society of Liberia, and served as a Visiting Professor on Oxford University’s Round Table in England (2005-2010). She also taught history at Chicago State University until her retirement in 2015. In addition to the UNESCO project, Dr. Jones authored and collaborated on numerous historical studies and books on Liberia. Notably, she coedited The Official Papers of William V.S. Tubman, President of the Republic of Liberia: Covering Addresses, Messages, Speeches, and Statements 1960-1967 (1968), co-authored the Liberia entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica with Svend Holsoe and Donald Rahl Petterson. She also authored the chapter on Liberia in J.F.A. Ajayi and Michael Crowder’s edited second volume entitled History of West Africa (1973).
Dr. Jones served Liberia in two administrations. From 1975 to 1978, she was the only woman on President William R. Tolbert Jr.’s cabinet where she served as the Minister for Postal Affairs and Telecommunications (1976-1977), and Minister for Health and Social Welfare (1977-1978). During the next decade, she served as Liberia’s ambassador to the United Nations in New York (1981-1985). During her service at the UN, she was the Vice President of the United Nations General Assembly in 1983.
Dr. Jones had a passion for her Christian faith. She was a devout follower of Christ and a staunch member of the Episcopal Church. It could be stated that her best day of the week was on Sunday when she got to spend time in church singing the hymns with vigor, humility, love, and joy. She was also the Director of Music at her beloved St. Thomas Church on Camp Johnson Road in Monrovia. In her death, the Episcopal Church has lost a devoted member and the Republic of Liberia has lost a loving and distinguished servant, patriot, and educator. She was married to the late Dr. A.E. Nyema Jones and raised five children.
She leaves to mourn, beloved family members, friends, and colleagues globally.
Wake keeping for Dr. Jones will be on Thursday, August 3rd 2023 beginning at 6:00pm at the St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Camp John Road, Monrovia
Funeral services for the peaceful repose of the soul of the late Dr. Hannah Abeodu Bowen-Jones will take place on Friday, August 4th, at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral on Broad Street at 8:00am.
Following the services, Dr. Jones will be laid to rest at the St. John’s Irving Memorial Episcopal Church Cemetery, Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County.
Rev. Abeoseh M. Flemister: +1-614-638-0448
Emily David Russ: +1-770-560-5758
Lucille Dede Harvey: +231-8811-02239
Theophilus Pokia Bowen: +231-8865-27452
Cllr. Mohamedu F. Jones: +1-240-888-5576