EVERETT — William “Bill” Jones was known around town for his art, long beard and taking his wife to work.
He gained international fame in 2009 for creating Winkers, pants with eyes on the back that wink when you walk.
Jones died from injuries in a car crash in Everett on Nov. 26.
He was 85. His wife, Otila, 67, died alongside him.
“They’ve been married for 11 years. All her friends at work knew him,” said his daughter, Gwen Ingram-Jones. “It was really sweet.”
Otila Jones, a retired teacher from Peru, was a certified nursing assistant at Bethany at Pacific in Everett.
Police don’t know why the Honda sedan driven by Bill Jones veered left to cause the collision on West Mukilteo Boulevard near Forest Drive. The driver of the other car had non-life-threatening injuries.
Bill and Otila met online. Their age and cultural differences didn’t get in the way, his daughter said.
“He spoke a little bit of Spanish,” Ingram-Jones said. “She went to school and studied English and got her CNA.”
She said her dad was a self-taught artist using mixed mediums, with aluminum and plastic his favorite. He could often be found tinkering with model airplanes or mechanical gadgets. His patent applications included a snowplow track and Winkers pants.
“He was a ‘starving artist,’” she said. “He struggled with depression most of his life and art was his outlet.”
At the time of his death, he was transposing his mother’s painting of a bouquet of flowers into a pattern for Otila to embroider as a surprise gift for his brother.
“Despite having depression and being a shy person, he would find little delights in things. He would sing a little tune or have a joke to share or make a funny face to get a small child to laugh,” Ingram-Jones said. “He was passionate about politics. He was compassionate for people who were oppressed and cared about those who were struggling.”
He made a list of accomplishments that started with winning a poppy painting contest in grade school. His art was displayed in shows.
In accordance with his wishes, in lieu of a funeral, a gathering for friends and family will be held 4 to 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 27, at Legion Hall at Legion Park in Everett. The event will be streamed live on Facebook, said Ingram-Jones, who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Otila Jones will be buried in Peru. A bilingual memorial service was recently held for her in the Bethany at Pacific chapel on Zoom for friends and family.
“She was quite well loved by the residents at Bethany, as well as by her co-workers,” said the Rev. Todd Wright, Bethany director of pastoral care.
He said Otila Jones was the center’s employee of the month for November and in June received the Towel and Basin Award.
“She frequently took on extra shifts at work. From what I hear she never said no,” Wright said. “In long-term care, a certified nursing assistant is not necessarily a glorious job, but it’s important. And you have to really care about people to do it.”
In Peru, Otila Jones was a schoolteacher, for 27 years teaching physics and chemistry. She was the mother of three children, Anita, Adita and Elías Daid.
Bill Jones, born and raised in Idaho, was the oldest of seven boys. He was the father of five daughters, Wilma, Charlie, Melissa, AmaLee and Gwen.
He received a splash of global fame in 2009 for Winkers, decorative pants that appear to “wink” from the behind of the wearer while walking.
Jones experimented on the pants of his daughters. He made Winkers on an ironing board in the living room of his Riverside home. People would send him their pants with a mark where their buttocks end and he painted the design by hand, using fabric paint. A single pair of pants could take him more than 10 hours to finish. He also made designs for kids, such as animated dinosaurs on shirt elbows and a popping Jack-in-the-box on the knees of pants.
“It was a passion project for two reasons,” Ingram-Jones said. “He thought it was fun. He was working hard to get enough funds to bring his wife to the United States in a legal, safe way.”