Rev. Dr. James William Jones “Bill”

December 25, 1929 - July 20, 2020

Rev. Dr. James William Jones (Bill), 90, a resident of North Fort Myers, FL for the past 27 years, formerly of Peoria, IL, passed away Monday, July 20, 2020 in Cape Coral, FL. He was born December 25, 1929 in Maroa, IL to Roy and Esther Jones, now deceased. He grew up on their farm, plowed corn with a team of horses, raised rabbits and worked in his parent’s grocery store and restaurant in Assumption, IL with his two sisters and two brothers. He dedicated his life to Christ at a summer church camp in 1945 and within a few years became the youngest preacher in the Central Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC). In 1949, he and his college roommate bought a used car and drove 3000 miles to California and back.

He was a recognized leader, being president of both his high school class in Assumption and the Student Union at Illinois Wesleyan University, where he received his bachelor’s degree. He graduated from Garret Theological Seminary while serving as a student pastor. Bill led in many capacities throughout his life, in both the churches and the communities where he lived. Bill received his first appointment to a church in 1949. He married his college sweetheart, Anne Snyder, in 1950, and they remained happily in love for 70 years! He loved to tell the story of their honeymoon when they spent $8 for a week in a cabin on Fox River, IL. The two traveled the world at little expense for the rest of his life.

Bill was a devoted father to their three daughters, enjoyed his four grandchildren, and delighted in his five great-grandchildren. He presided at most of their baptisms and marriages, and taught them to pray, respect everyone, and work hard. Anne and Bill’s love and devotion to God and to each other remains a vibrant witness to all who met them.

He was known as an inspiring and powerful preacher. Bill served on many of the boards and agencies of the UMC and was a delegate to Jurisdictional Conference and the World Methodist Council on Evangelism. Throughout his career, he served the smallest and the largest church in the Illinois Great Rivers UMC Conference. In his 44 years as a pastor, he served at Center Henton, Hammond, Quincy Vermont Street, Ashland, Clinton, Monmouth, Moline First, Decatur Grace, and retired from Peoria First. He loved leading Bible studies and teaching people about prayer. He mentored many men and women in ministry. He touched the lives of many youth, taking them on mission trips and teaching them to water ski. After meeting the man who found the Dead Sea Scrolls on his first visit to Israel, he went on to lead 4 pilgrimages there. He received the Peter Cartwright Award for Evangelism in 2018. While at Decatur Grace, he was on television for 12 years leading worship and helped start many of the feeding programs of Peoria First. Bill was in ministry with some of the poorest and the richest people in the communities he served. He received his honorary doctorate from Wiley College in 1974 and worked his whole life for racial equality. He was thankful to have helped in the building of three churches in the US and several in Haiti. His faith was authentic and contagious. He loved music and appreciated those who created it. Two of his favorite hymns were “How Great Thou Art “and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

Bill appreciated God’s creation and loved to travel to see the many wonders and people of the world. He led over 25 mission trips (5 of them to Haiti), visited all 50 states, and enjoyed camping with his family. In 1970, he and Anne built a cabin on Table Rock Lake, MO, making it their summer home after retirement. In 1993, they moved to Pine Island, FL to fish and enjoy the water. Both Bill and Anne loved to provide hospitality and hosted hundreds of folks from around the world. In some cases, they hosted guests for a great meal they prepared together; in others – including beloved exchange student Anita Gundi – guests became family and lived with them for years. Everywhere he called home, Bill made friends and offered his gifts of service.

Bill was a member of Grace United Methodist Church in Cape Coral, FL. He is survived by his beloved wife of 70 years, Anne Jones of North Fort Myers, FL; three loving daughters, Rev. Cynthia Jones of North Fort Myers, FL, Deborah Phillips (William) of Las Cruces, NM, Jan Ellen Morse (Jack) of Decatur, IL; four grandchildren, Elizabeth Settles (Byron), Rachel Jones, Julie Nalley (Brandon), and Jared Morse (Kara); as well as five great grandchildren, Benjamin Settles, Eden Nalley, Mackenzie Houston-Nalley, Eli Morse, and Eva Morse.

A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date. Details to be announced via

Memorial Contributions in memory of Rev. Jones are suggested to The United Methodist Foundation, The Alain Rocourt Endowment, P. O. Box 3487, Springfield, IL 62708-3487 ( or the church of your choice.

Mullins Memorial Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Cape Coral, is entrusted with final care.


  1. Cynthia Ward Jul 23, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Dear Pastor and Preacher – you will be missed here.

  2. Marilyn Wolfe Jul 23, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    The greatest man I ever knew! So sorry for your loss! RIP Uncle Bill!

  3. Shirley M McGilvray Jul 23, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    To the family, I send my heart felt prayers for strength, wisdom, love and peace.

  4. Teressa Corinne Clyde Jul 23, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    Always will remember our times together. Your and Anne’s friendship is an eternal treasure. So glad you are in our Lord’s presence now.

  5. Dewayne & Christina Glover Jul 23, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Sorry for your loss Pastor Cindy you and your family are in our prayers

  6. MARSHA SPRINGS Jul 23, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    I only spent a little time with him but it was a pleasure. A kind and loving man and faithful servant of God. I send my condolences to the family. I know he will be greatly missed but we have the peace of knowing he is rejoicing in his enteral home with our Lord and Savior.

  7. Betty Sells and Carl Flack Jul 23, 2020 at 4:27 pm

    Carl and I are so sorry for your loss.Love and Prayers for God’s comforting love at this sad time

  8. Rev. Gaylord & Macel Buss Jul 23, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    Macel and I will miss you Bill! It has been great knowing you and Ann over the years we were tigether in Decatur area starting the new church at Mt. Zion, Il. We appreciated so much the help of Grace chutch while serving Mt.Zion. I have always admired Bill’s ministry and especially his passion for missions at home and around the world! Rest in peace and prayers of love care for your family! Gaylord and Macel Buss

  9. Laurel & Bill Zelnio Jul 23, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    So sad to hear I’d Bill’s passing. Our most sincere condolences to the Jones family. So many memories of Bill, Anne and family, mainly in Moline, IL and visits with them in Cape Coral, FL. Bill married us in 1977 and is most responsible for Bill becoming a Methodist. His daughter Debbie was a great singer and sang with our band for a Summer too. Bill and his passion for life will be missed. We certainly will never forget Bill.

  10. Stephanie Godke Jul 23, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    Rev Bill will always be remembered for his big heart and big voice.

  11. Joy (Rash) Bergstrand Jul 23, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    What a loss for such a great family. May you receive the peace that passes all understanding.

  12. Rev. Bill and Millie Pruett. Jul 23, 2020 at 4:45 pm

    I know he was met with the words, “Well done good and faithful servant”. Such a good man and friend. We will certainly miss him.

  13. Jane H. Ewing Jul 23, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    Nancy and I have been privileged to live next door to Bill and Anne for the past 5 years. And we quickly grew to love them. God’s love radiated from them both, and his death has left a big void in our lives. So thankful for Bill’s vibrant witness.

  14. Peggy Sue Wenzel Jul 23, 2020 at 7:32 pm

    Aunt Ann and family I’m sorry to hear about the going home of Uncle Bill. He did so many powerful things in his life. He loved the Lord and showed it everyday. Aunt Ann u and Uncle Bill always impressed me with your love and how u showed all of us that love. When I was a child I remember u two kissing just because I loved how he called u his bride. I remember the great times at your house. It’s hard loosing Uncle Bill and Aunt Sharon so close to each other. I’m praying for u. Hard not to have someone to hug and cry with we are all over. I haven’t seen u very much since I became an adult but I remember everything Ican hold that dear. My prayers are also with your site! To my cousins my heart hurts for you my prayers are with u as well. Love Peggy

  15. John and Carolyn Coonrod Jul 23, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    Dearest and precious friend, Anne.
    As everyone that has been blessed with your friendship, we are profoundly saddened.
    So grateful that we have many special memories with both you and Bill!! We are holding you in our hearts . Love you soooo.

  16. Maria Baca Jul 23, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    Aunt Anne, it was so wonderful to speak with you last night. Please know that I will continue to pray for your heart, as I know it is so broken right now. 70 years is so long to suddenly lose the one you love so much. You too were such a great example to me! I wish we could have seen each other more often after we left Illinois. I sure do miss those family reunions! I love and miss you. May the Lord comfort your heart and bring you unimaginable peace at a time where there is such emptiness. Love you all!!
    Maria (Sharon’s youngest)

  17. Donna Harmon Jul 24, 2020 at 12:03 am

    While we are mourning losing Bill….there must be a great celebration in heaven…..a reunion as such with his God & his family & friends…..our loss/his gain….love to you all….!

  18. Linda Davis Jul 24, 2020 at 12:37 am

    Beautifully written! Without a doubt, his was a life well lived. Thanks to the family for sharing him with so many, many others over the many years. Mourn his loss while celebrating his life. God bless all of you.🙏🙏🙏❤

  19. Janice Devor Jul 24, 2020 at 6:56 am

    I am so sorry for your loss. I know you will miss him.
    May God richly bless you in this time of sorrow.

  20. Linda Wentworth Rodgers Jul 24, 2020 at 7:34 am

    Bill and Anne were good friends to my parents John and Rosie Wentworth while serving at Decatur Grace, and he made an impact on our entire family. Well done good and faithful servant!

  21. Brooks Wilson Jul 24, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    I was honored to meet Rev. Jones when he presided over Julie Morse and Brandon Nalley’s wedding. What a wonderful man, filled with God’s spirit and with love of mankind. I wish his lovely wife, Ann, and all his family the peace that comes from time and beautiful memories.

  22. Roscoe and Ann Pershing Jul 24, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    Bill Jones was the most complete pastor we have ever known. He truly loved what he did and found love in everyone he met. He was fun, smart, caring and could inspire leadership from the church congregation. His whole family was involved and dedicated to being a part of the leadership team. We have many fond memories of Bill, Anne, and the family. He was a cherished friend and we will miss him dearly. Our love to Anne and the whole family.

  23. Shelley Weaver Jul 25, 2020 at 2:52 pm

    Ann and family…I am thankful for Pastor Bill who showed me much grace and love. His presence was a blessing in Peoria church …and his kind heart and love for Jesus was a beautiful witness and testimony through many years. It was a gift to have known and loved him.. What these first days in heaven must be like for him!!!

  24. Martha Griffin Ventress Jul 26, 2020 at 3:16 pm

    Anne, I thank God for your time in the Hammond Methodist Church because that is when I first knew you and Bill. We were all in the play that was given in the gym at the school directed by Lois Wolfe. I imagine she has the ones up there singing don’t you? We know that is a better place and we will join them in God’s time.

  25. Frank and Mary Lou New Jul 26, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    We are thinking about all your family and are saddened by Bill’s passing. We’re grateful he touched so many lives. All those whose life he touched are grateful for Bill’s influence. We have many happy memories beginning in 1949 when we west enders followed the blossoming of your romance up till June 1950. We have appreciated our friendship through the years. How many people have had one of Bill’s boat rides?; have perfected their water skiing skills behind Bill’s boat? As we worked together as pastors in Moline, Bill always made me feel his equal. Heaven has gained another good, great faithful servant of God.

  26. Tina Watkins (Seaton) Jul 28, 2020 at 12:01 am

    I’ll never forget when he came to our home when my brother was killed in a tragic accident. My family leaned on him heavily during that time of great grief. He was so compassionate and strong. May you be comforted by his enduring love for his family and his Lord and God. Sending you all a big hug!

  27. Heidi Watkins Lewis Jul 28, 2020 at 8:43 am

    Rev. Bill Jones was one of the most extraordinary men I have ever had the privilege of knowing. During my childhood and adolescence, I was a part of his congregation at FUMC Moline for many years. At age 14, while on a youth witness mission, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. It was September 7, 1975 and was a beautiful Sunday morning! Later that day, after I arrived home, my family suffered an unthinkable loss. My 18-year-old brother had been tragically killed in a mountain climbing accident near Aspen, Colorado. When Rev. Jones walked into our home that evening, I didn’t know whether to hug him or hit him. He didn’t say a word. He didn’t have to. He simply embraced me in his gentle and loving arms. He walked alongside our family during those dark and challenging days and eulogized Dan-o in a beautiful way. I will be forever grateful for the love, compassion, and grace Bill, Anne, and their beautiful children shared with ours. Rest In Peace, Rev. Jones. I am a better person for having known you.

  28. Kathie & Brad Brown Jul 28, 2020 at 11:39 am

    I grew up in the First Methodist Church in Moline including part of the time Rev. Jones was the pastor. He married my husband and me in 1971 and we both gave our lives to the Lord during a Lay Witness weekend the following year. That was the start of a life of Christian ministry for both of us. We will always remember him and extend our love to his family with fond memories. Kathie (Powers)

  29. Cathy Meadows Jul 30, 2020 at 9:56 am

    Dear Anne,
    I’m so sorry for your loss. You and Bill were such a great team. May the peace of God be with you.❤️

  30. Anne Jones Jul 31, 2020 at 4:16 pm

    Thank you all for your kind words and shared memories. They are invaluable to us. Anne and family

  31. Corinne Cloughen Jul 31, 2020 at 6:01 pm

    The blessed trinity is so pleased to gather Rev. Bill Jones to their heavenly home. Although so many will miss him here, he is at peace and will be patiently waiting for others to join him. Blessings and may Christ comfort all.

  32. Myron and Lois Fogde Aug 2, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    His picture is exactly the way I remember Bill during your years at First, Moline. Those were good active years of ministry when Nancy Johnson directed the Sr. Choir and I was organist. We always gave him the Lutheran point of view! It was a joy to have you visit our “coach” while wintering in Largo. My prayers and sympathy are with you, Anne, and your family.

  33. Dale R Tanis Aug 2, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    from Dale Tanis
    Dear Ann and family,
    I am so sorry for your loss, but am so happy for your wonderful life together.
    Bill and you touched so many people, You were the “A” team for God in our Moline church.
    Barb & I and Sherry & Larry Hardesty were lucky enough to have attend your Peoria retirement party.
    The well wishers {present and past} from the churches you served exemplify the love we have for you and Rev. Bill,
    Our love was reaffirmed after Rev. Bill to spoke that evening..
    I appreciate Bill giving me the Moline music CD during the Pershing, Apple, Agness, & Tanis visit to Fort Myers
    God Bless You and yours,

  34. Tara Robbins Swearingen Jan 22, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    I just happened to search for Rev. Jones and was very sorry to see his obituary. Especially because I am in Fort Myers. Rev. Jones was our pastor and your family our friends in Clinton, IL. My dad was a teacher and coach at the high school. My sister and I actually stayed with you while our mom gave birth to our younger sister. I remember it well because I ran away while we were at church and went to my house (on Main St.) and hid under the bed because I missed my parents so much! Both my parents (Ken and Shirley Robbins) are gone now., but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed those early years of church and fellowship that your family gave us. I am an active member of the Methodist church to this day. Sending love and condolences.

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