Obituary: Joan Ernestine Jones
Tributes have been paid to the “conscientious, ethical and honest” optometrist and practice owner
24 August 2021
Optometry Today is sad to share the death of Joan Ernestine Jones, a “conscientious” optometrist and practice owner of more than 30 years, who has died after a short battle with a brain tumour.
Her son, Chris Jones, also an optometrist, paid tribute.
Born in Salford in 1942, Joan attended Stand Grammar School. Growing up, Joan was not allowed a bike as it was not seen as an activity that was suitable for girls, and so took up photography as a hobby instead.
“Through this, she developed an interest for the eyes,” Chris shared.
This led Joan to study ophthalmic optics at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST), learning under George Giles. After qualifying in 1962, Joan worked for an independent practice in Warrington and Leigh.
In 1965 she married her husband, Harry Jones, and the pair moved to London for his work.
In the city, Joan faced challenges from employers as a female optometrist. Chris explained: “She received an offer from a practice who then explained that the contract had mistakenly included the wages for a male optometrist, rather than a woman’s, which were lower.”
Joan went on to work for another multiple in the centre of London, but on becoming pregnant with her first child, was dismissed.
“She just got back up and dusted herself off. She was someone who just kept getting up.”
Joan moved to work for an independent practice in Peckham, an experience she particularly enjoyed. Her family explained: “She was happier working in a community practice than in the city because she felt truly valued by her patients. The range of clinical needs in that community was more interesting to her, too.”
With a growing family, the couple took the decision to move back to Salford in 1967, where Joan set up her own practice in a part of the family home.
“We were practically born in the practice – my sister was born in the practice,” Chris shared, adding that Joan “didn’t have more than a few weeks off” before she would be back at work.
Joan bought a practice in Heywood, Lancashire, in 1973, which she would run for 30 years, with her family describing her as “very conscientious and so ethical and honest.”
Joan was a lifetime member of the AOP and saw the importance of continued education, Chris noted: “She always did CET/CPD before it was compulsory, going to both Northern Optometric Society and Lancashire Optical Society lectures in order to constantly better herself.”
Keen to continue developing her skills, she completed a Master’s degree at Bradford University in the late 80s, studying under Professor Pickwell.
“She wanted to keep her skills fresh and top up her training,” Chris reflected. “I think she was also setting a bar for my sister and I, that if she could go back to university to study a Master’s, we could go to university too.”
Joan was the sole owner of her Heywood practice before selling it to DG Opticians in 2005.
“The practice is still going strong. She was determined when selling the practice that the patients would be cared for and the practice had to go on. It is like a legacy.”
Described as a practical person, Joan enjoyed sewing and baking, and in her retirement, she was part of a yoga club and travelled with her husband.
“My father had learnt to fly a Cessna and so she learnt how to navigate whilst he flew the plane from Lancashire Aero Club. Using a map and listening to the radio calls, she could calculate what was needed.
“It tied in well with her interest in photography and they did a lot of travelling to see the world,” Chris explained.
Joan was diagnosed with a brain tumour in January this year and died in August, surrounded by family.
She leaves behind husband, Harry, children, Lynda and Chris, and three grandchildren.
The funeral will take place on 26 August. The family has asked for donations to be made to Little Hearts Matter.