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Feb. 25, 1945 — Jan. 18, 2019
RALEIGH — Treva Mitchell Jones, a former Raleigh Times and News & Observer reporter for more than three decades, an encyclopedic chronicler of life and death throughout Wake County, died peacefully Friday, Jan. 18 at Hospice Home in Raleigh after battling lung and liver cancer for more than two years with characteristic stoicism and wit. She was 73.
Treva was born Feb. 25, 1945 at the former Mary Elizabeth Hospital in Raleigh to the late Millard B. Mitchell and the late Emma Holmes, both of Franklin County. She was reared in Spring Hope in nearby Nash County and graduated from Spring Hope High School in 1963.
Treva received an associate degree from Brevard College in Brevard in 1965, and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1967. She went to Brevard, she said, because at that time UNC-CH would not accept most female students as freshmen, but only as junior transfers. Treva loved her two years in Brevard, but for the rest of her life was a true-blue Tar Heel, wearing out more than one light-blue windbreaker.
Treva was hired as a police reporter at the Raleigh Times in 1967, covered unrest in Raleigh after the April 1968 murder of Martin Luther King Jr., and over the years mastered almost every local news beat and countless general assignments. She received The News & Observer’s Publisher’s Award in 1989 and contributed to numerous news stories that won staff awards from the North Carolina Press Association.
An attentive interviewer and a gifted storyteller, Treva became well-known for her news obituaries about the people of Raleigh and Wake County, some famous and others not. Versatile, persistent, caring, trusted, and exceptionally well-sourced, she also reported a wide array of the news of North Carolina’s capital city, generating some 8,000 news and feature stories in 32 years of work.
Treva got an early exclusive, for example, when Raleigh developer Smedes York decided to run for mayor. She wrote about the history of downtown Raleigh’s Hugh Morson High School when it closed. She was one of the first to interview the artist who created Raleigh’s copper acorn.
Treva also specialized in reporting on historic preservation throughout Raleigh and Wake County. She received Capital Area Preservation’s Anthemion Award in 1994 for creating public awareness of historic preservation, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the organization upon her retirement in 1999.
In the newsrooms of the Raleigh Times and the N&O, Treva nurtured generations of young reporters, photographers, editors and other journalists, encouraging their success, entertaining them with her riotous sense of humor and astonishing them with her knowledge of local history and those who had made it — and were making it still. She was a rare reporter who could be tough, dogged and polite all at once. Her respect and sensitivity toward families and friends of the departed was legendary.
When Treva retired, her colleague Rob Christensen declared that “she over the years has been not only under the Dome, but also inside the Dome and on top of the Dome.” Mike Yopp, one of Treva’s editors at the Raleigh Times and the N&O, said in announcing her retirement to the newsroom staff: “She combined the skeptical edge of a seasoned reporter with a wonderful sense of humanity. … Treva has that great quality of, all at once, caring about news, about the people who make it and about those who are touched by it.”
After Treva retired, she served on the boards of the Raleigh City Museum, the Raleigh Historic Districts Commission and the Historic Resources and Museum Advisory Board. She was a founding member of the advisory board in 2012, and before that a member of its predecessor, the Mordecai Park Advisory Board. In 2017, Treva received the advisory board’s Stewardship Award to honor her contributions to the written record of Raleigh and its historic sites, museums and parks, and for her personal advocacy and volunteerism.
Besides history, Treva loved cooking, travel and animals, and often combined her interests. In 1983, she and her husband Bill traveled to England, where she tracked down and interviewed the world-famous veterinarian Dr. James Herriot. She took many trips with Bill to Civil War battlefields, and several times they drove historic Route 66 from Chicago to the California coast. At home, Treva and Bill grew roses by the hundreds, which she often brought to her delighted newsroom colleagues.
Treva loved the down-to-earth quality of fellow native North Carolinians, the variety of travel experiences possible in her home state, the fascinating bits and pieces of history tucked and stitched through its fabric, and its famed barbecue, which she liked to say was “not to die for, but to live for.”
“She was an inspiration to me — tough, tender, resourceful,” one of Treva’s former N&O colleagues, Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Anne Saker, said of her this week. “She was a voice full of the song of North Carolina, and I mourn in the silence.”
Treva is survived by her devoted husband of 49 years, William Duke Jones Jr.; sisters, Jackie M. Fisher, and husband, Ronald, of Titusville, Florida and Frances Diane Mitchell of Rocky Mount; and nephew, Eugene Fisher of Titusville, Florida.
A memorial service was held Sunday, Jan. 27 at Westover United Methodist Church, 300 Powell Drive, in west Raleigh.
The family wishes to thank the staffs of Rex Hematology Oncology Associates of Raleigh, Hillcrest Raleigh at Crabtree Valley, and Transitions LifeCare of Raleigh for their care and support during Treva’s battle with cancer.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Transitions LifeCare, 250 Hospice Circle, Raleigh, NC 27607; Westover United Methodist Church, 300 Powell Drive, Raleigh, NC 27606; and the William D. Jones and Treva M. Jones Service Dog Assistance Fund at N.C. State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
Online condolences are welcomed at www.bryan-leefuneralhome.com.