The Fordham Law community is mourning the death of William Pickering Jones III ’20. Will passed away on Christmas day, Tuesday, December 25. He was 27.
“I came to know Will well during his time at Fordham. He had a passion for justice and for helping others. We are all stunned and deeply saddened by his death,” said Matthew Diller, Dean and Paul Fuller Professor of Law at Fordham Law School. “Will contributed a great deal to our community during his too brief time with us.”
Will was actively involved in criminal justice issues and took a lead role in two PIRC student groups – the Drug Policy Reform Project (DPRP), which he co-founded, and Advocates for the Incarcerated (AFTI), where he served on the board as the secretary.
Last winter Will worked with a team of students to help us plan a significant public program on closing the jail at Riker’s Island and this fall he worked on another major A2J project. As a leader of the DPRP, Will was deeply involved in a program scheduled for this winter. He also worked as a research assistant for Professor Deborah Denno focusing on issues relating to her Center on Law and Neuroscience.
“Will was one of the most passionate and dedicated individuals I’ve ever met—passionate about his causes, his family, and his friends, as well as an entire world full of discovery that he continually pursued in numerous disciplines, not just law,” said Deborah Denno, the Arthur A. McGivney professor of law and founding director of the Neuroscience and Law Center. “Will was an endlessly curious perfectionist, always delivering impeccable work that drew on his broad insights. Along with such ambition, however, Will was funny, warm, and humble, always shining a light on others.”
Will spoke with a reporter for the ABA Journal recently about how inspired he was by Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy. He paraphrased Stevenson saying, “The character of a society is not how we treat the privileged few, but how we treat the less fortunate, the mentally ill, those who are incarcerated.”
Will was focused on helping others not only through his involvement in access to justice issues, but also before that by coaching and mentoring students at the Yerwood Center Boys and Girls Club in Stamford, CT.
Before attending Fordham Law Will earned his bachelor’s degree from McGill University where he played varsity lacrosse.
Will brought great spirit, intellectual rigor, and passion to all he endeavored. He was kind and generous to those he knew well and those he’d only just met. He was a beloved big brother, son, and cherished friend. The Fordham Law community’s thoughts and prayers are with his parents, William P. Jones Jr. and Elizabeth Higgins Jones (Betsy and Bill); his sisters, Julia, Catherine, and Elizabeth Jones; and his large and loving extended family and group of friends.
Will’s funeral will be held at St. John’s Roman Catholic Church at 1986 Post Road in Darien, Connecticut at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 29th. Our University President, Father Joseph M. McShane, S.J., will preside. The Law School will hold a memorial for Will in the spring.