Remembering Mary D. Jones, M.D., whose life was all about helping others

Mary, a partner at East Bay Pediatrics until she retired in 2014, touched and fundamentally helped so many people in so many ways with her deep compassion and heartfelt empathy.

Dr Mary Jones obituary photo
Dr Mary D. Jones. Photo: Courtesy family

Mary D. Jones, M.D. — Feb. 8, 1948 – Nov. 21, 2020

It is with deep and profound sadness we announce the sudden passing of  Mary Rose DeLay Jones, 72, of Berkeley, CA, who passed away suddenly on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

Mary was born on Feb. 8, 1948 in Ogallala, NE. Her parents were Ercel and Nina DeLay. Her sibling is Michael DeLay, and his wife, Mary DeLay of Grand Island, Nebraska. Mary married William Clay Jones, III on May 25, 1975 in Ogallala, Nebraska.

Among her achievements in Ogallala, Nebraska, starting in high school, Mary was a rodeo queen, national merit semi-finalist, valedictorian of her high school class and Episcopal Church organist. Among her awards at the University of Nebraska were graduating with highest honors and being selected as both the Nebraska State Student Nurse of the Year (1971) and an Outstanding Young Woman of America.


Mary went on to receive a Masters of Public Health in Maternal Child Health from Tulane University School of Public Health, and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the LSU School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana. She was board-certified as a pediatrician by the American Board of Pediatrics after completing a residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas and subsequently passing the Boards.

Mary and her family relocated to Berkeley, CA, in 1982 where she was a community pediatrician and partner with East Bay Pediatrics until her retirement in 2014. Throughout this time she maintained privileges and saw patients at Children’s Hospital Oakland. She was the director of Katie’s Clinic for Rett Syndrome and Related Disorders (Children’s Hospital Oakland) beginning in 2008 and a pediatrician and founding member of the clinic since its inception in 2004. Mary was passionate about research in the field of Rett Syndrome and related disorders, participating in clinical trials, collaborating on several publications, and presenting on the benefits of an enriched environment.

Mary loved A’s baseball, going to Yosemite, beach vacations with her family, photography, and cooking.

Over the last two years, Mary was given the privilege of taking care of her granddaughter Dalia two days per week. This was a joyous time in which Mary and Dalia visited parks and the horse barn, did art projects, read books, made blueberry muffins, identified seashells gathered from the Atlantic Ocean to Guam, and checked on the local wildlife in Berkeley including deer in the garden and beautiful Monarch caterpillars.

In recent years, Mary also regularly drove to Fremont to see grandchildren Lauren and Matthew and help with school drop-off and pick-up, many times going on outings to the pumpkin patch or the animal farm. More recently Mary put together a creative Halloween celebration in her driveway for Lauren and Matthew, even driving across town to find dry ice for making spooky Jack-O-Lanterns. Despite the pandemic, Mary found ways to make her grandchildren feel loved and special.

Mary touched and fundamentally helped so many people in so many ways with her deep compassion and heartfelt empathy. Mary rarely did anything for herself. For Mary, it was all about helping others, whether it was her family, her friends, her patients, her interns, or her colleagues. All of us who were lucky enough to have known her are richer for her touch.

As an example, in response to the news of Mary’s passing, one of her interns provided an immediate heartfelt response:

To me, Dr. Mary was not only a pediatrician but also a mentor and an inspiration. Her passion and compassion inspired me to follow in her footsteps and pursue a career as a doctor. She has made me who I am today and who I will be tomorrow; for that, I will be forever grateful.

Mary was also well-respected by her colleagues. Above is a photo of her accepting the Bronze Bambino award from UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital of Oakland in 2014. The Bronze Bambino is a lifetime achievement award presented annually to an outstanding member of the medical staff. It has been a tradition at Children’s Hospital Oakland since 1967. The recipient is nominated by his or her peers, with the final decision made by the Medical Staff President, Medical Staff President Elect, Department of Medicine Chair and the Department of Surgery Chair. Criteria taken into consideration include outstanding and long-standing service, and unselfish devotion to the hospital.

To announce Mary’s passing, an email was sent by UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, which included the following excerpt:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,
It is with a heavy heart that we share with you the news that Dr. Mary Jones passed away over the weekend. Dr. Jones’ legacy is one of inspired leadership and compassion in her dedication to the health and wellbeing of some of our community’s most vulnerable children. As both a long time community pediatrician, and more recently as Director of the Rett Syndrome Clinic, one of very few clinics of its kind in the western U.S., she was an enduring champion for her patients and was deeply committed to her work. We are proud, and humbled to have had Dr. Jones as part of our Oakland community for over 40 years.

Mary was a fierce advocate for her patients, particularly those she served with Rett Syndrome and related disorders through Katie’s Clinic. Inset below one of Mary’s former patients who is now a pediatrician reflected on Mary’s dedication to her patients. (Note: an IEP is an Individualized Education Program for children with special needs. Mary would often attend IEPs to collaborate with the school teams and advocate for her patients’ educational needs. A stander is a piece of medical equipment used to improve one’s ability to bear weight through his/her legs among many other benefits.)

Dr. Mary was the most beautiful, selfless soul on earth. There are no words to describe the impact she had on each and every one of her patients’ lives. There has never been a physician as dedicated as her, who would drive four hours each way just to attend a patient’s IEP or to pick up a stander from one patient’s house and drop it off for another to use. She really was “Fairy Mary” as all of her patients lovingly called her. There has never been anyone quite like her, and there never will be.

She was there for me from the day I had my newborn visit with her many, many years ago until now. She was a lifelong mentor, friend, and second mother to me. I am beyond grateful that she got to see me become a physician. I would not be a pediatrician today if it were not for her.

She will live forever in all of our hearts.

For more information on Katie’s Clinic and Rett Syndrome and related disorders, which was a huge part of Mary’s life and passion, we recommend visiting Katie Nues Foundation.

Mary is survived by her spouse, William Clay Jones, III of Berkeley, CA, and her children, Trevor Clay Jones (Anna), Jennifer Mary Jones Lokotkin (Yuriy), and Seth Michael Jones (Kelsey). She was very proud of her three grandchildren, Lauren (8), Matthew (5), and Dalia (2). Mary was grateful her children and grandchildren continued to reside in Northern California for frequent visits.

Due to COVID precautions, private services for the family were held Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. An online celebration of Mary’s life is planned to take place on Feb. 6, 2021. For information on the upcoming celebration of Mary’s life please contact Paige Nues at paigenues03@gmail.com. A webpage dedicated to Mary’s memory is also being planned. Please contact her husband Clay at clayjones1@aol.com for more details on the webpage.

In lieu of flowers, donations are appreciated to be made directly to the Katie Nues Foundation or the Xenophon Therapeutic Riding Center, so that Mary’s life’s work and her passion to serve vulnerable children can continue in her honor.