Berkeley - Victor Jones, a University of California, Berkeley, professor emeritus of political science who helped found the Association of Bay Area Governments and was a pioneer in the academic study of metropolitan governments, died suddenly on April 1 at his home in Oakland. He was 92.
His seminal work, "Metropolitan Government" (University of Chicago Press), first published in 1942, laid the groundwork for the generation that studied post-war metropolitan governance issues.
Many scholars of his time have credited Jones with being among the first, if not the first, to delve deeply into regional governance issues at a time when most political scientists focused on international and national issues.
Jones researched intergovernmental politics and governance at the local and regional levels, exploring the role of interest groups, power and other influences on governmental bodies. He sought to end duplication and waste in regional governance and pushed for the creation of regional agencies that would spur cooperation and coordination among metropolitan politicians and governmental officials.
His lifelong commitment to regional government was most tangibly realized with the founding of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) in 1961. Jones, along with Bay Area mayors, city managers and the League of California Cities, pushed for the formation of an agency that would address regional issues such as air and water quality, open space and solid waste disposal.
In addition to his consultant work with ABAG, Jones served as a consultant to the U.S. Advisory Committee on Intergovernmental Relations, the League of California Cities, and the National Association of Regional Councils, among others.
In 1996, the American Political Science Association honored him for his groundbreaking work in metropolitan and intergovernmental affairs. In 1979, the National Association of Regional Councils named him into its Intergovernmental Hall of Fame. In 1978, he was elected to the National Academy of Public Administration.
Known for his courtly southern air and accent, Jones was born in Birmingham, Ala., on Jan. 14, 1909. He received his bachelor's degree from Howard College, now Samford University, in Birmingham, in 1932; and his PhD in government from the University of Chicago in 1939.
He came to UC Berkeley in 1938 as a research associate at the campus's Bureau of Public Administration, now known as the Institute of Governmental Studies. He became a full professor in the political science department in 1955 and served briefly as department chair before retiring in 1976.
Though "retired," he remained active, teaching a public administration class at Golden Gate University in San Francisco from 1977 to 1980 and returning to teach at UC Berkeley. In 1982, Jones, who studied regional issues in metropolitan Canada and had a strong interest in Canadian federalism, helped found UC Berkeley's Canadian Studies Program.
And for many years later, he would return to the Institute of Governmental Studies. Jones, who never learned to drive, would take the bus to campus and attend seminars at the institute and generally make himself available to any student seeking insight and advice.
"For years, the name Victor Jones was virtually synonymous with the Institute of Governmental Studies," said Bruce Cain, director of the institute. "Decades of IGS students and faculty were enriched by Victor's knowledge and enthusiasm about regional and local government. He will be greatly missed by all of us."
Jones is survived by his wife of 66 years, Annie Mae Crumpton Jones; a son, David Crumpton Jones (a musician professionally known as David Serva) of Madrid, Spain; a daughter, Patricia Ungern of Berkeley; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
A family gathering is planned, and a celebration of Jones's life will be held on the UC Berkeley campus at a later date. Donations in his memory may be made to the Institute of Governmental Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 109 Moses Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-2370.