Margaret Jean Jones, 72, died Monday morning at her home, leaving behind a legacy that includes the Margaret Jean Jones Center, three books, hundreds of editorials and numerous lives touched. She was also named The Times 2000 Profile Citizen of the Year.

Looking back on her accomplishments in a 1998 interview with The Times, Jones said she truly enjoyed her life, despite the almost lifelong paralysis she suffered.

“There are probably things I would have done differently, but all in all I’ve had a blessed and fulfilling life,” she said. “I can’t look back and be bitter. I have made a conscious effort not to be bitter, but to concentrate on the things I have done that I’ve enjoyed.”

Jones spent more than 55 years bedridden with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva — a connective tissue defect between the muscles that results in the proliferation of bone formation.

With her neck and much of her body frozen by the condition, her window to the world became a small mirror she could angle to look out of her farm house window, as well as the typewriter and computer she would use to share her thoughts.

Despite her handicap, Jones thrived as a writer, penning a memoir called “The World In My Mirror,” numerous columns for The Times and other publications, as well as two historical books about Cullman County.

She also helped found the Margaret Jean Jones Cullman County Center for the Developmentally Disabled (CCCDD), and wrote regular entries for the center’s newsletter until her death. The center teaches individuals with disabilities how to take care of themselves and prepares them to be productive citizens.

Terry McGill, director of the CCCDD, said Jones’ contribution to the community has been tremendous.

“She was a remarkable woman,” McGill said. “She has been a great asset in everything we’ve done and we are heartbroken to lose her. She’s been an inspiration to all of us to keep this program going, and is the main reason we’re here.”

Pat Thomason, a long-time friend of Jones who also served on the CCCDD board of directors with her, said she was always in good spirits.

“I’ve known her for 35 years,” she said. “She was a wonderful lady, an inspiration, and always had a smile and positive things to say about people. Whenever you would go visit her to cheer her up, you would come away the one rewarded ... It’s amazing to have her condition and accomplish all of the things that she did.”

The CCCDD assistant director Charese Morris said Jones’ many accomplishments are truly inspiring.

“She had such a great spirit and was always such a joyful person,” she said. “She will be greatly missed.”

Elizabeth Burns said the CCCDD might not even exist in its current form without the work of Jones.

“She has been so supportive of all of those children, for all these years,” she said. “She did anything she could for those kids.”

Jamie Dye Goeller, a former classmate of Jones, said she was one of the most intelligent people she had ever known.

“Regardless of how sick she was, she was always so smart,” she said. “She always thought of others and was real quick to respond when anything was going on with her classmates.”

Jones was a lifelong member of Baileyton United Methodist Church, and told The Times in a previous interview that she always tried to live her life by what Paul wrote in the book of Philippians, chapter 4, verse 19.

The verse reads, “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

Funeral services for Jones will be at 2. p.m. Wednesday at Baileyton United Church. See page 4A of The Times for Jones’ full obituary.

‰ Sandra Massey contributed to this story.

‰ Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 225.

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