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​The award winners were recognized during a special event on April 1 at El Centro College.

​Contact: Eddie Miranda, 214-378-1541,, or
Kathye Hammontree, 214-378-1536,

For immediate release — April 25, 2016

(DALLAS) — For 38 years, the family of local philanthropists Eleanor Fordham Jones and the late George Rather Jones has been dedicated to supporting students enrolled in the seven Dallas Community Colleges who excel in music, visual arts and creative writing. In the spirit of continuing the Jones legacy, the couple’s children and grandchildren regularly attend an annual event that honors the students who receive the awards the family established.

This year, the Jones family honored 14 Dallas County Community College District students who received these awards. Seven students earned the Cecil Wallace Fordham Award in Visual Arts; six received the Alice Jones Berding Award in Music; and one student was given the Eleanor Jones Award in Creative Writing. Each recipient is selected by a faculty member or administrator at the DCCCD colleges.

The annual awards are made possible through endowments donated by Eleanor and George Jones and their family through the DCCCD Foundation, each providing a cash award of $500.

“DCCCD appreciates so much that Mrs. Eleanor Jones and her children and grandchildren have continued the tradition of honoring their family and our students through these awards,” said Dr. Joe May, DCCCD’s chancellor. “The family’s dedication to the creative and performing arts survives in the works and dreams of our outstanding students. Gifts such as these are a lasting legacy that honor both the donors and the recipients.”

The 2016 recipients were recognized during a special event on April 1 at El Centro College. The event included an exhibit in El Centro’s H. Paxton Moore Fine Art Gallery, featuring pieces by the visual arts honorees, as well as performances by music and writing awardees staged in the performance hall.

Cecil Wallace Fordham Award in Visual Arts

This award was endowed in 1979 by Eleanor and George Jones in memory of Eleanor’s father, Cecil Fordham. He was an automotive mechanical engineer and veteran of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers who built furniture as a hobby and who also had a lifelong appreciation for beautiful design. The award is given annually to an outstanding visual arts major at each of the seven colleges in the DCCCD system.

This year’s visual arts honorees (listed with hometown, college and major) are:

  • Sara Cox of Waxahachie, Cedar Valley College, computer graphics;
  • Juan Cruz of Dallas, Richland College, fine arts;
  • Veronica Cumbie of Lewisville, North Lake College, computer graphics;
  • Imone Ruth Harris of Dallas, Eastfield College, art;
  • Christopher Macherro of Dallas, El Centro College, art;
  • Marissa Renteria of Duncanville, Mountain View College, art management; and
  • Christian Rodriguez of Dallas, Brookhaven College, art.

Alice Jones Berding Award in Music

The award honors its namesake for her years of teaching piano both privately and in Dallas schools; it was established in 1977 through a gift from Berding’s brother, George Jones, and his wife, Eleanor. Continued by the family after Berding’s death in 1981, the award is now in its 38th year.

Awarded annually to an outstanding music major at each college, with preference to piano students, this year’s academic honorees are:

  • Ezequiel Alcala of Dallas, Eastfield College, music;
  • Damaris Alfaro of Desoto, Richland College, music;
  • Carlos Wagner Joseph of Dallas, Brookhaven College, music education;
  • Laisa Yasmin Leal of Dallas, El Centro College, music composition;
  • Cortland Alexander Majors of Lancaster, Cedar Valley College, composition/digital music; and
  • Nhi Nguyen of Irving, North Lake College, music and business.

Eleanor Jones Award in Creative Writing

Established in 2002 in honor of Eleanor Jones’ 75th birthday by her family, this award is presented annually to one creative writing student representing the entire district who excels in prose or poetry. This year’s academic honoree is Charlie Hilliard of Irving, who attends North Lake College and is majoring in English.

For more information, contact Kathye Hammontree in the DCCCD Foundation at (214) 378-1536 or at

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