Eugene and Betty Jones.
Keeping up with the Joneses.
"Active Wilton Pair Defies
Stereotypes of the Elderly."
by James Walker,
Norwlk Hour Staff Writer, www.thehour.com,
WILTON – Some people need no introduction.
Through the years, Betty and Eugene Jones'
accomplishments have been written about in newspapers,
their images splashed across television
screens and hung outside theaters on marquee
posters while their names have been emblazoned in
lights outside concert halls.
And if that isn't enough, their names have been
scrawled on the pages of history due to either to their
part in a worldwide
scandalous trial or
because the footprint of
their lineage traces
back to a significant
event in America's past.
Many people would
be happy to rest on
their laurels after having
Arts Award or
having had scholarships
named in their
honor. But for the couple
from Wilton, aging
with attitude is about a world filled with laughter;
keeping their marriage fresh; and preparing for the
next concert, dinner party or adventure.
Betty Jones sailed past dozens of photographs of
well-known people and theatrical posters into the
music room of her home, singing one of the arias she
has performed with the Bournmouth Symphony in
England, with the Stockholm Symphony in Sweden
and on stages from Carnegie Hall to Boston with conductors
Leonard Bernstein and Arthur Fiedler.
Her voice confidently rides up several notes before
she stops and looks over with a wink.
“Everything still works, baby,” she said.
At 75, Betty Jones is sassy, spiritually revealing,
passionate about life, quick with the one-liners and
has no problem telling visitors she became an opera
singer late in life for the man she loves.
“I wanted my husband's complete attention,” she
And for the woman whose
uncle was the first Executive
Secretary of the
was responsible for opera
singer Marian Anderson being
the first black woman to sing at
Carnegie Hall, getting a lot of
attention is what she's used to.
And so is her husband,
Eugene, 80, an engineer who has
garnered accolades for his
expertise in the construction of
bridges throughout the U.S.,
Europe and Africa and has
helped build airports in China.
Their home is a testament of
a body of work that includes
newspaper clippings of Eugene
being called in as an expert witness
at the trial of Edward
Kennedy during the infamous
Chappaquiddick Bridge incident,
where Mary Jo Kopeche
was killed, or in images of Betty
Jones dramatically costumed in
one of her many operatic roles.
“We've worked all over the
world,” she said.
And the Joneses are still
Eugene keeps busy on the
board of trustees at the
Opera House and the
Maritime Aquarium, and Betty
stays occupied tutoring about 50
Betty said aging with attitude
is about being spiritual,
keeping up with the latest medicines
and getting up at 7 a.m. to
an exercise routine that
includes walking, push-ups and
“I don't know I'm 75,” she
said. “When my body falls
apart, I'll move out.”
But moving on to a higher
plane is not what Betty is about,
as she has proved to herself
aging is only about numbers.
The celebrated opera singer didn't
make her operatic debut
until age 41.
“He's the one that loved
opera,” she said, pointing to her
husband. “I raised my children
first. After that, I said, 'If that's
the way to keep him, I'll do it.'
The most important thing is the
health of the marriage. I'm
singing next week at a soiree.”
The Joneses’ life continues to
center around music, and until
recently, the boat they had for 32
years — the “BettyGene,” in
which they have sailed around
the United States.
Betty is still performing
“Opera Antics,” — a one-woman
show that includes excerpts
from the operas of Rossi, Wagner,
Verdi, Bernstein and Gershwin,
along with musicals and
jazz tunes. She first performed
the show in 1987 and said it
keeps her on her toes, as she
proudly displays a CD from the
performance that has sales
“When I get up to sing, I
make people happy,” she said.
“And my sense of humor makes
But for Eugene Jones, the
culmination of his wife's career
might have happened in 1986,
when the state awarded her its
Arts Award and celebrated her
with a black tie dinner and a 30-
minute television special shown
Connecticut Public TV
throughout the state.
The award has been given to
legendary artists such as Marian
Anderson and jazz artist
Dave Brubeck — a fellow Wilton
resident. And whenever he has
a break from an energetic
schedule that includes speeches
he gives to various organizations
in Wilton and Darien,
Eugene likes to pop in the video
of the public TV special into the
VCR and sit down amongst the
posters of his wife and largescale
drawings of the bridges he
helped build to revisit that
“I watch this all the time,” he
said, slipping in the video.