Hilda Jones was a woman who exuded the prim, proper professionalism expected of working women in the era following World War II, but who also knew how to let it out when supporting her Beaver sports teams.
Most of all, the former Oregon State College of Business professor was a positive influence on a generation of women who came through Bexell Hall.
Jones passed away in July at the age of 94.
A graduate of Newberg High School and then Oregon State College, Jones earned a master’s degree in business from New York University in the 1940s. She married Robert Dean Jones in 1947, and later, the couple settled in Corvallis where Jones began teaching in the College of Business secretarial science department
Connie Palmer, a former colleague of Jones in the late 1960s, remembered Jones’ high standards in the classroom and her refusal to accept anything less from her students.
“She was an old-school perfectionist teacher,” Palmer said. “She was the best shorthand teacher I’ve ever known. No matter how much you didn’t like her, you learned from her.”
Jones enforced a business-like code in her class, expecting each student to come prepared as if they were entering a real office. Up until the 1970s, a student without a skirt could be sent home.
“Hilda and I were the last ones to wear pantsuits,” Palmer remembered with a laugh.
During the late 1970s Jones was part of a transition as the college moved away from secretarial classes. At that time Jones was a writing instructor for the College of Business, working with professors to insert writing assignments into courses.
Jane Siebler was a graduate teaching assistant for Jones in 1978-79, helping her grade writing assignments.
“She was a great lady,” Sieber said. “She was just one of those together women that kept going and blazing her trail.”
While Sieber said outwardly Jones was very traditional, the professor did everything she could to make sure women at the college could advance and succeed.
“It was a real different world and Hilda and Pat Wells, there were some professors helping women get on their feet,” Sieber said. “She quietly and in her own way supported female students.”
Despite her distinguished teaching career, Jones may have been most known as a loyal Beaver fan, both attending games and contributing to the Beaver Athletic Scholarship Fund.
While she was all business in Bexell Hall, those same rules didn’t apply while attending football and basketball games.
“She was an avid Beaver fan,” Palmer said. “They had to be sick to miss a game.”
Sieber said it was always fun to see Jones let loose while cheering on OSU.
“She dressed very professionally, acted very professionally, then she went to games and was a different person,” she said.
According to the Corvallis Gazette-Times, the family suggests donations in Jones’ name to the Benton County Historical Society, Albany Regional Museum, First United Methodist Church, the Jackson Street Youth Shelter, the Linn-Benton Community College Foundation or a charity of choice.