Cover photo for Stanley Gordon Jones,  Jr.'s Obituary
Stanley Gordon Jones,  Jr. Profile Photo
1949 Stanley 2017

Stanley Gordon Jones, Jr.

November 22, 1949 — February 6, 2017

Stan Jones, who transformed education in Indiana and throughout the nation as a long-time state legislator, Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education, and founder and president of the national nonprofit Complete College America, passed away peacefully at his home in Indianapolis on Monday, February 6, 2017 while surrounded by family.

An engineering graduate of Purdue University, Stan served as Student Body President in 1970. He began his longstanding commitment to education in 1974, when, at the age of 24, he was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives, a seat he would hold for 16 years. As a member of both the House Education and State Budget committees, he developed expertise in education and education finance, emboldening his ever-growing passion for creating opportunity for students and their families, holding accountable institutions and systems to better serve our communities, and building bridges for those far too often left behind.

In 1990, he was tapped by then-Governor of Indiana Evan Bayh to serve as a senior advisor, a post he would hold for more than five years before being appointed as Indiana’s 5th Commissioner for Higher Education.

During his more than 12-year tenure at the Commission, a time in which he served under four governors from both parties, Stan transformed the agency from a policy-maker sounding board and budget organization into a catalyst for positive change in the state. He is credited as the primary architect of several landmark education policy initiatives, including the 21st Century Scholars program, an early promise scholarship aimed at increasing the number of low-income students attending and completing a postsecondary education. Additionally, he was instrumental in the creation of the state’s community college system; Indiana’s Education Roundtable; the deployment of outcomes-based funding; and the implementation of Core 40, a college prep curriculum that has contributed to significant increases in high school seniors going to college.

In 2009, following three decades of advocacy and reform in the state of Indiana, Stan founded Complete College America in order to build a network of states committed to substantially increasing the number of Americans with a postsecondary credential. Under his leadership, the organization grew to 42 member states and institutional consortia and advanced an ambitious agenda to revolutionize the nation’s higher education systems and close attainment gaps for underrepresented populations.

Jones is survived by his wife, Karen; son, Stan Jones III (Sarah); daughters, Emily Hawthorne (Steve) and Monica Jones; step-daughter, Becky Schmaltz (Jeff); and step-son, Chris Deery; mother, Lois Jones; granddaughter, Adela Connolly; step- grandsons, Noah and Luke Schmaltz; sisters, Sara High(Bruce) and Betsy Rice(Ed); mother-in-law, Ruth Anne Noe; sisters-in-law, Catherine Noe and Sandra Noe; brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Robert and Patsy Noe; nephews, Matt High (Amanda), Nate High (Audra), Nick Noe, Aaron Noe; nieces, Loiy High, Katie Rice, Abi Mazalouskas (Matt), Emilee Arens (Nick), Isabel Noe, and Sofie Noe; and several great nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his father, Stanley Gordon Jones; sister, Mary Jones; and granddaughter, Clementine Connolly. Whenever urging forward those around him, Stan would often famously say, “change at the margins will only produce marginal change.” Those words could never be used to describe Stan Jones - a leader, husband, father and man who made a significant difference for the betterment of Indiana and our country. A visitation will be held from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Friday, February 10, 2017, at Daniel F. O’Riley Funeral Home, 6107 S. East Street (US Hwy 31 South) Indianapolis, IN 46227. Funeral will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at St. Roch Catholic Church, 3600 S. Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, IN 46227. Burial to follow at Calvary Cemetery in Indianapolis.

For those inclined, the family suggests contributions to Complete College America for the Stan Jones Memorial Scholarship, supporting 21st Century Scholars. Donations can be made at or mailed to Complete College America, 429 East Vermont Street, Suite 300, Indianapolis, IN 46202. Online condolences may be shared with the family at

To send flowers to the family in memory of Stanley Gordon Jones, Jr., please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Friday, February 10, 2017

2:00 - 8:00pm (Eastern time)

O'Riley - Branson Funeral Service & Crematory

6107 S. East St, Indianapolis, IN 46227

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

10:00 - 11:00am (Eastern time)

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