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Helen Jones Woods, 1937
*The birth of Helen Jones Woods is celebrated on this date in 1923. She was a retired jazz and swing trombone player.
Helen Jones was born near Jackson, Mississippi. She started playing with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm group when she was only 11 years old, when it was still the "school band" of Piney Woods Country Life School in Mississippi.
Her father, Laurence C. Jones, founded the school in 1909. In her 1940s heyday, young Helen Elizabeth Jones was in the top female trombonist in the United States. After the band dissolved in 1949, Jones moved to Omaha and worked as a licensed practical nurse at Douglas County Hospital. She and her husband, William Alfred Woods, lived in the Logan Fontenelle Housing Projects while he attended Creighton University.
Upon graduating, he became the first Black to earn an accounting degree there. Wood's fourth child is Cathy Hughes, a successful business entrepreneur from Omaha. Woods was inducted into the Omaha Black Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
Helen Jones Wood died of COVID-19 on July 25, 2020 in Sarasota, Fla. She was 96. Her daughter Cathy Hughes confirmed the details of her death.