Boney, Jew Don, Sr. (1928–1979)

By: Charlene Taylor Evans

Type: Biography

Published: May 22, 2013

Updated: September 10, 2016

Jew Don Boney, Sr., educator, higher education and public school administrator, businessman, and civic leader, was born on March 28, 1928, in Calvert, Texas. His parents were David and Gladys (Nelson) Boney, and he had no siblings. Wright Boney was his paternal grandfather. Boney attended elementary schools in Oklahoma and Texas and graduated from Aycock High School in May 1944. He entered Prairie View Normal and Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University) in September 1944 and participated in the ROTC on campus. He earned a bachelor of science degree in agricultural education in May 1948 and taught vocational agriculture in Texas schools from 1948 to 1955. He was director of testing for the Port Arthur Independent School District from 1959 to 1964. Boney engaged in graduate studies in educational psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and earned his master’s degree in 1957. He earned a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1964. His doctoral dissertation was titled “A Study of the Use of Intelligence, Aptitude, and Ability Measures in Predicting the Scholastic Achievement of Negro Students in Secondary School.”

On April 7, 1950, Boney married Clara Bernice Payne whom he had met while in school at Prairie View. His wife worked as a public school teacher for more than forty years. They had a son, Jew Don Boney, Jr., who became an ordained Baptist minister, civil rights activist, Houston city council member, and mayor pro-tem for Houston where he served with the city’s first African-American mayor Lee P. Brown.

From 1964 to 1967 Boney Sr. was an associate professor of education at the University of Illinois, and he was an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Houston from 1967 to 1969; he was also associate dean of graduate studies at the University of Houston’s College of Education from 1970 to 1971. In 1971–72 he served as acting general superintendent of the Houston Independent School District; he was the first African American to ever serve in that capacity. From 1973 to 1975 he was president of the Houston Community College System. Boney served on Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby’s Special Committee on Human Services Delivery. He had also authored articles for The Journal of Negro Education.

At the time of his death, Boney was chancellor of the University of Houston-Downtown and a leading candidate for appointment as chancellor of the University of Houston System. He served on the board of directors of Entex, Inc.; Riverside National Bank; the Better Business Bureau for Metropolitan Houston, Inc.; and other corporations. He died of a heart attack on August 27, 1979, in Houston and was buried in Forest Park Cemetery. He was fifty-two years old.

Rev. J. Don Boney, Jr., Interview by author, December 3–4, 2012. “Past Presidents: J. Don Boney, 1975–1979,” University of Houston-Downtown (, accessed May 1, 2013 

  • Education
  • Educators
  • School Principals and Superintendents
  • University Presidents and School Administrators
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Charlene Taylor Evans, “Boney, Jew Don, Sr.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 02, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

May 22, 2013
September 10, 2016

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: