South Charlotte

Mickey Jones, family faced struggles in WWII

Mickey Jones' life has been a remarkable journey from Holland to southern Mecklenburg, with stories of love, war and escape along the way.

Born Wilhelmina Bernardina de Looy in 1937 in s'Hertogbosch in Holland, Mickey was 2 when her mother, Belona, divorced. Mickey, her mother and older sister Jacqueline moved to Amsterdam to a five-story bed and breakfast. When World War II broke out, Belona became a member of the Dutch underground. She and seven others, mostly young men and boys, would go out at night to destroy bridges and roads “to prevent the Germans from transporting Jews,” according to Mickey.

As the war raged, the Germans occupied Holland, and Mickey's mother used the space to hide 19 Jewish people. With rations for a family of three, she managed to keep 22 alive. Miraculously, all except an older couple who died before the end of the war managed to escape through Spain to the U.S.

One afternoon as members of the underground were meeting in Belona's basement kitchen, word came that the Germans were on their way. Everyone escaped but the young men left their weapons on the kitchen shelves. Belona was arrested and sent to prison.

Jacqueline was sent to live with her paternal grandparents, Mickey to a farm with an older couple. Mickey remembers being treated well. One day in the fields, about a year later, they heard soldiers marching. “Hide,” Mickey was told. The farmer feared it was the Germans. Instead, Canadians and Americans had entered Holland.

When Mickey's mother was freed, the reunion was complex; the young Mickey was overcome with emotion and nausea, crying hysterically as repressed fear and loneliness welled up. The war had taken a toll on Mickey's mother. She spent time in a sanitarium. Mickey says her mother distanced herself and her emotions. Belona remarried but Mickey's relationship with her stepfather wasn't good; her older sister helped her get an apartment and a job at a bar.

One night three Americans came in. One especially was taken with the beautiful redhead Mickey had become. But she was cautious. When John David Jones offered to drive her home, she said no, but allowed him to walk her home. He asked if she believed in love at first sight and she unhesitatingly said no. He went back to his base in France and wrote daily. A week later, he reappeared with an engagement ring. He and Mickey married Jan. 3, 1958. They had three sons and a daughter and followed his Air Force career. They finally settled in Ohio, married for 41 years, when John died in 2000.

Mickey Jones now lives in a charming home in south Mecklenburg.