Clint Jones — iconoclastic inventor, writer from Sequim — is dead at 86

Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM — Philip Clinton “Clint” Jones III, inventor, opera singer and “freethinker” who called for the abolition of many an institution — the spelling of Sequim, the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag and the Electoral College — is dead at age 86.

After fighting prostate cancer for months, he collapsed at his Sequim home and died at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles on Dec. 23.

In accordance with his will, his body was donated to the University of Washington for medical research.

No memorial services are planned.

A prolific writer of petitions and letters to the editor, Jones conducted a well-publicized but unsuccessful campaign beginning in 2000 with local, regional and federal authorities to change Sequim to Squim to eliminate confused reactions when outsiders try to spell or pronounce the city's name.

“I'm just dropping the 'e,' and I've been doing it for the past five years,” Jones told the Peninsula Daily News.

His house insurance, patent application for his Dandy Digger weeding tool and even his bank checks said “Squim” was his hometown.

Jones also believed Americans should pledge their allegiance to the U.S. Constitution instead of to “that piece of cloth.”

In recent years, he got national attention with articles and petitions to do away with the Electoral College, the Constitution-mandated system of 538 electors who, acting as go-betweens for the voters, select the U.S. president every four years.

Jones considered this process a relic, one that denied equal rights to the voters of each state.

It should be replaced with a direct popular vote, he said.

'Use your brains'

One might look at those three efforts — spread over 13 years — and call them unsuccessful.

But say that to Jones, and he responded with a wide smile. He couldn't disagree more.

“I got people thinking. My goal is to get you to use your brains,” he told the PDN in 2010.

“I've enjoyed life tremendously,” Jones added. “I'm the luckiest person in the world because I keep finding things” to explore.

Jones also began the Juan de Fuca Freethinkers, a Sequim-based group of people “who like to pursue reason over dogma.”

His Dandy Digger, a weed-pulling spear he invented more than a decade ago, in a sense also symbolized Jones' drive to uproot things he believed didn't belong in our lives.

Sold from his home and garden shops, the device is especially good for rooting out dandelions.

Born in Los Angeles on Oct. 25, 1927, Jones grew up in suburban Burbank and graduated from UCLA in 1950 with a degree in accounting and finance; went to work at a camera shop in Santa Monica, Calif.; and toiled as a darkroom film processor at the Technicolor studio in Hollywood.

Jones then opened his own shop, Clint's Camera, in Van Nuys, Calif. Somewhere in there, he considered becoming a Presbyterian minister and spent time in a seminary.

But Jones realized he wasn't minister material and at age 28 moved to Naples, Italy, to study opera.

He became a professional singer and moved to New York City, where he performed at Radio City Music Hall and other venues.

Yet another career change turned him into a salesman for the National Merchandising Corp. in Boston, where he sold advertising for telephone book covers.

Then he started his own advertising business in Orange County, Calif.

He retired to Sequim in 1994 with his then-wife, Viva.

Not surprisingly, Jones wrote a book, a pocket-size paperback titled Reflections, that he called “my own bible.”

Reflections

The 1988 edition is dedicated to his only child, Yvonne Marie Fneiche, who lives in Toledo, Ohio, with three children.

He is also survived by a brother, Lloyd Jones of Costa Mesa, Calif.

Reflections is a quick but provocative read, with Jones' thoughts on friends, life's purpose and other topics, each given its own page.

“Friends are gifts . . . they should be cherished and enjoyed,” Jones wrote. “Friendship is a gift of our creator to enrich our lives.”

On hatred: It's “due to a lack of understanding. We fear what we do not understand; we hate what we fear.”

Under “Simple”: “Life is simple. We are the only ones who make it otherwise.”

And on the page headlined “Many Lives,” Jones notes that “life is a living chain of experiences, each of which is an existence.

“Like a movie, our lives are composed of many picture frames, each a story itself.

“Every new experience is a rebirth, a reawakening.”

Last modified: January 04. 2014 6:25PM
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