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Kitty Benedict died January 11th at Geer Village after several years struggling with Alzheimer’s disease. She died peacefully surrounded by her compassionate caretakers at Geer and her niece, Nancy Bayersdorfer. Nancy and her husband, David looked after Kitty selflessly with love, cared for all her needs while living at home and since 2022 when she went to Geer Village.
Kitty was born in Summit, New Jersey on Sept. 6, 1934, the daughter of the late Katherine Taber Benedict and the late Horace Guion Benedict. She was predeceased by her beloved husband, Foxhall Parker Jones and her much missed sister, Anne Nightingale.
Kitty graduated cum laude in English, from Smith College in 1956. “Smith was a great place to study. I loved the challenges of new subjects, exams, writing, singing, touring England, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia, implanting in me a never-ending desire to travel, particularly Italy.” After graduation Kitty worked at Harper and Brothers (Harper Collins) in New York City managing to work her way up from a ‘shorthand taking’ secretary to senior editor. Kitty took a few leaves from Harpers. One was to study Russian at Yale, another on a Fulbright to live in Italy and another on a Johns Hopkins scholarship to live in Bologna, Italy and back to work at Harpers where she was the editor for Dan Rather’s book, The Palace Guard.
After Harpers, Kitty went on to work at Macmillan Publishers for a few years and then on to help a friend set up his own trade paperback house. Kitty wrote 3 books. One on the French Revolution, another on the first five presidents and one on eminent women writers for young adult readers. She put together a book for the Connecticut Housing Coalition lobbying group dedicated to affordable housing.
Opera, musical theater and music has been a passion for Kitty since junior high school. She has sung with many choruses, her favorite being Crescendo Chorus, directed by Christine Gevert. Kitty continued her love of opera, often going to the Met in NYC for performances. She claimed one of the most exhilarating experiences she had was being in My Fair Lady at the Sharon Playhouse in 2015.
Kitty met the ‘love of her life’, Foxhall Parker Jones who also worked at Harpers, and they were married in1974 - “a very happy, fortunate choice. He was an adorable, kind, loving and funny husband with 5 children! Fox’s brilliant blue eyes, red hair, sweet face, his deep laughing voice, his touch; everything about him pleased me. How lucky I was to have known and loved him for 36 years.”
Kitty held numerous roles serving as a board member, committee member, a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations, community groups and charitable foundations. This list is just a few of her countless contributions: Scoville Library, Housatonic Mental Health Center, Crescendo Music, Salisbury Family Services, Hospice of Litchfield County, Housatonic Child Care Center, Berkshire Hills Music and Dance and Democratic Town Committee. Over the years, she could often be seen standing with the peace vigil group on Saturdays on the Salisbury green. To quote Dan Dwyer, a good friend. “Kitty was a real swell - smart, witty, engaging and engaged. She worked effortlessly on several fundraisers here in town with me. And she was faithfully one of the ‘usual suspects’ who would take to the barricades for issues locally and beyond.”
Kitty was a beautiful athlete. Tennis was her favorite. She was one of those people who played golf a few times a year, but played as if she practiced every day. She loved doing her swimming laps at Lion’s Head pool and would play paddle tennis during the winter.
Kitty leaves her 5 step-children, L.Parker Jones ( Parkie) of Newburyport, Ma. and her daughter, Lily Baker of Portsmouth, N.H., Howland Jones (Casey) of Danbury and son, Sam Foxhall Jones of Wilton, Ct., Molly Westbrook Jones of Littleton, Ma., Brian Strong Jones, of Brooklyn, New York and Dylan Russell Jones of Boston, Ma. Kitty’s 3 nephews: Frank Nightingale of Phoenix, Arizona; Guion Nightingale and wife, Darla of North Owasso; Oklahoma and Tom Nightingale and his wife, Karen of Alta Loma, California and many great nieces and nephews; Her niece, Nancy Russell Bayersdorfer and husband, David Bayersdorfer of Lakeville, Ct; Leslie Jones Allyn and husband, McGee Allyn. And Nancy and Leslie’s respective children and grandchildren.
Kitty leaves her many cousins originally from Montgomery, Alabama, whom she spent much time with as a young girl and had such fond childhood memories. She leaves many great friends from kindergarten to more recent times. We thank all who cared for Kitty at Geer Village. You are angels on this earth.
Family and friends are invited to her funeral service at Trinity Lime Rock Church, 484 Lime Rock Road, Lakeville, Ct. on February 17th at 11am. Please join us for a reception at the church following the service. Burial will be at a later date. Ryan Funeral Home, 255 Main St., Lakeville, is assisting Kitty’s family with arrangements.