Sanford Jones made his transition on Tuesday, June 22nd at his home in Savannah, Georgia at the age of 83. He will be lovingly remembered by his family, friends, and even those who only shared a moment with him for his positive demeanor, sense of humor, charisma, handwritten notes, spontaneity, sincere nature, and ability to listen without judgement. He also really enjoyed using his hands and other senses doing things outdoors, especially in his garden, which was known as one of the most beautiful in Ardsley Park.
Sanford completed his undergraduate work in music and history at Westminster Choir College, Rutgers University and Roanoke College. A piano and piano pedagogy student of Frances Clark and a member of Westminster Choir under John Finley Williamson, he taught at Westminster Choir College and The New School for Music Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
Sanford and wife Judy co-founded Youth Opera International, Inc. His fourteen children’s operas, based on mythology and folktales, have been performed globally over 500 times.
Sanford was well-known as a Montessori educator and lecturer. His training even included sessions in Bergamo, Italy with Mario Montessori, son of Dr. Maria Montessori. He made significant contributions to the Montessori movement, including the founding and directing of four schools on the East Coast. He was the founding president of the North American Montessori Teachers’ Association and was a former Executive Director of Association Montessori Internationale-USA. In 2012, he was presented with a “Wisdom of the Elders” award from the Montessori Accreditation Council for Teacher Education in recognition of a lifetime of dedicated service to Montessori education. He created a line of songbooks, DVDs and educational materials used in Montessori classrooms internationally.
In Savannah, where he lived for 25 years, Sanford conducted Montessori teacher training and performed his children’s operas at Charles Ellis Montessori Academy for many years, and also staged his operas at Bloomingdale Elementary School and was a founding consultant at Coastal Empire Montessori School.
Throughout his life, Sanford loved playing classical piano. With over seventy-five years of performing, he continued to challenge himself to learn new works by a wide array of composers. He was a long-time member of a pianists’ group at The Landings. He also enjoyed singing and belonged to E. Cantori and the Local Vocals. He used his musical talents to benefit organizations including Asbury Church, Unity of Savannah, the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island, and numerous others. Beyond his passion for music and his work, he enjoyed traveling to visit friends and faraway places, contemplating life with a good cup of coffee, and a large bowl of ice cream and cookies to end each day.
Sanford is survived by his wife, Judy Jones; sister and husband, Elizabeth and Gary Bronson; daughter and husband Carrie and Butch Hirsch; son and wife David Jones and Jane Phelan Jones; son Christopher Braden; son Charles Jones; daughter and husband Mary and Kevin Reilley; son and wife Stephen and Tara Austin; and son and wife Michael and Laurie Austin; grandson and wife Julian Jones Delacruz and Laurel Patterson; grandchildren George Hirsch, Jr., Savanna Phelan Jones, Cameron Jones, Parker Jones, Spencer Jones, Shannon Reilley, John Reilley, Ryan Reilley, Kristen Reilley, Kevin Austin, Joe Austin, Erin Austin, Emily Austin, Lucy Austin, Grace Austin, and Mark Austin; great-grandchildren Ava Wibberly, Reid Wibberly, and Marlon Delacruz; and beloved dog Bogey.
A Celebration of Life service will be held for Sanford Jones on Saturday, August 7th at 3:00 pm at Asbury Memorial Church at 1008 E. Henry Street.
In lieu of flowers, any donations may be made to Asbury Memorial Church.