Director, actress, author, speaker—many words have been used to describe Mrs. Beneth Peters Jones over the years. In the words of BJU president Steve Pettit, she “was a wonderful, extremely talented lady who had a profound impact on the University and the experiences that are available to [students] today.”
If you would like to honor Beneth, you can send written memories and anecdotes or brief videos to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beneth was born in Albany, Oregon, but spent most of her childhood in Olympia, Washington. When she was thirteen, her family moved to Phoenix, Arizona. She attended Phoenix Christian Academy and showed talent in both music and speech. The teachers of both classes suggested she apply to Bob Jones University, a school she had never heard of before.
Beneth applied and was accepted to BJU and came as a student in the fall of 1955. She studied interpretative speech and was heavily involved in campus productions.
Perhaps the most memorable role for Beneth was the first theatrical role for which she auditioned at BJU. She was a sophomore when she auditioned for the role of Roxane, the female romantic lead in Cyrano de Bergerac. Bob Jones III was playing Christian, the male romantic lead, and was interested in Beneth even though she was currently interested in another. When director Katherine Stenholm asked Bob III which of the girls auditioning he wanted for his Roxane, Beneth says he pointed at her and said, “That one.” And the rest, as they say, was history.
Bob III and Beneth were married in December 1959 during their first year of graduate school at BJU. They also both completed some postgraduate work at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, before the birth—and death—of their first son in 1963. A daughter followed in 1964, and the Joneses named her for the role that brought them together—Roxane. God also blessed the family with two boys, Bob IV and Stephen, in 1966 and 1969, respectively.
As the “first lady” of BJU, Beneth taught speech and women’s ministry classes, directed plays and Vespers programs, performed in plays and Living Gallery, wrote thirteen books, and recorded a syndicated radio program. According to Dr. Pettit, she was “a key member of the Jones family who supported each of the leaders [of Bob Jones University] and yet had her own significant impact on thousands inside and outside the university family.”
Lonnie Polson, chair of the Division of Communication in the School of Fine Arts and Communication, said the following of Mrs. Jones: “I was privileged to work with Mrs. Jones on several BJU Classic Players productions. . . . The pressures of directing or acting in a major theatrical production bring out the best—and the worst of those who participate. But in the case of Beneth Jones, there was no worst, only a best.”
In the tribute chapel service held in Beneth’s honor on Tuesday, Feb. 5, Stephen Jones shared many poignant memories about his mother. The first being, “Mom would be the first to stand here, ramrod-straight, and say, ‘For Pete’s sake, it’s not about me.’ The hero of the story is not Mom; it’s a great God.”
Dr. Jones went on to challenge students with two lessons learned from his mother’s life. First, was a lesson his mother herself taught him and his siblings: “God deserves the best. . . . You’re not just representing yourself. You’re representing the God of the universe, and you need to represent Him well.”
The second lesson Dr. Jones shared was one he learned from watching his mother minister to hurting women over the years: “God can bring beauty from the ashes. . . . She was ministering from what God had done to the pain in her life and background.”
Several spoke during Beneth’s funeral Wednesday. Beneth’s brother Arden Peters shared, “After I graduated from high school, [Beneth] kept encouraging me to come [to BJU]. After four years, I finally got on a Greyhound bus myself, and came back. Five days and four nights on a Greyhound bus—I do not recommend it, by the way. . . . The second night I was here, I accepted Christ as my Savior. Her influence over the years had been so powerful in my life, I couldn’t deny her testimony. The Bible says that “he being dead yet speaketh.” She being dead yet speaketh. And Proverbs 31:28 says her family ‘arise up, and call her blessed.’ . . . Her ministry is not done. It’s just moved to a different location.”
Beneth’s pastor Phil Gerard shared the impact Beneth had on the ladies of Midway Bible Church. “To our ladies in particular, Beneth was not larger than life. She was just one of us. . . . There is a memory of Beneth that I will always carry of her as her pastor. She and one of our ladies were talking intently after a service—about what, I do not know. But that talk ended with that lady reaching out to hug Beneth and Beneth hugging her right back. And that epitomized what Beneth Jones meant to our ladies. Our ladies are feeling her loss very personally today. The loss of her counsel, the loss of her prayers, the loss of her one-of-a-kind sense of humor, the loss of her love.”
And Stephen Jones shared one of Beneth’s last moments of clarity before she passed. “Last Thursday, the 31st, that was originally scheduled to be her final chemo. But it was the day that the doctors said, ‘We want to talk to you,’ and Dad asked all of us to come to the hospital room. And there the oncologist told her that [Mom’s lymphoma] was back and it was resistant to the chemotherapy and it was aggressive. And she said [Mom] probably has one to three weeks. And though Mom had already started to get a little cloudy, the Lord gave her about two minutes of clarity and eloquence. And she said there in the presence of four hospital caregivers and all of us children and children-in-law, ‘Isn’t God gracious? I was doing better and being able to get around, but it hurt. And now it’s so quick He’s allowing me to go down. And heaven is so close. And God has been so good. There are no regrets. Such a wonderful life and a family and the doctors to take care of me. And now heaven to look forward to. Isn’t God good?’ . . . And just over 48 hours later on the very last words of ‘Finding as He promised perfect peace and rest,’ she simply stopped breathing. And as Jesus promised, ‘I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.’”
Beneth dedicated her life to shining the spotlight on her God, even when she was in the spotlight herself. Dr. Bob Jones III said, “Her gifts were from God and given back into the hands of her Heavenly Father for His purposes and glory. Her life was not spent, but invested for the Gospel of Jesus Christ Who was all in all to her.”
The tribute service, the funeral and the graveside service for Mrs. Jones can all be viewed via the following Livestream event: