Loretha Jones and her family
Photography

Family Portraits: Jones, Simmons, Brown

The ground-breaking FUN HOME is the latest theater work to explore, dramatize, and otherwise celebrate the family dynamic. As we anticipate the arrival of FUN HOME, we also celebrate real life Bay Area families. The second piece in our Family Portraits series introduces the Curran family to Loretha Jones, an Oakland native, and her family of six.

Loretha's family has been deeply rooted in the Bay Area for generations. An Oakland native, Loretha now owns the home that she grew up in, which has been passed down in her family for nearly half a century.

"I want to be able to pass my house down to one of my children. It's really important to everyone that we keep the house in the family and continue that tradition."

Having spent her entire life living in the Bay Area with her family, Loretha is drawn to Oakland's multi-faceted community: "The best part about raising a family in Oakland is having the opportunity to deal with such a diverse group of people. Everyday you're dealing with people from different cultures and backgrounds."

The entire family is very dedicated to cultivating a strong spiritual foundation and are avid churchgoers within their community. Outside of religion, one of the things they most value is education, as both Loretha and Tarolyn work at Oakland School for the Arts.

Tarolyn is a 3rd grade teacher and hopes that the kids in their family fully immerse themselves in learning both inside and outside the classroom: "I want them to take advantage of the positive opportunities that come their way. I want them to know their surroundings, know their culture and really know what's going on in the world."

"I want to be able to pass my house down to one of my children. It's really important to everyone that we keep the house in the family and continue that tradition."

The family is a group of avid barbecuers and makes a conscious effort to cook together on a regular basis, despite their busy schedules.

"Everyone usually pitches in and helps in some way," says Loretha. "We love to try new things, so we're always bouncing ideas off of each other and cooking a variety of different foods."

No matter what they cook or how it the dish turns out, Loretha says that her family always relishes time spent together and maintains their lighthearted nature.

"We all have a big sense of humor, so we're able to joke around with each other in a really loving way. We really enjoy just laughing with each other."

Left to Right: Kia Simmons and her baby, Meilani Simmons; Mamiyana Brown; Tarolyn Brown; Sharolyn Brown; Loretha Jones; Natalie Brown (Sharolyn's daughter)