Festive Flag pioneer dead at 64

Jan. 25, 2008 at 2:23 PM
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RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Mildred Callahan Jones, the Virginia nurse who pioneered the flying of decorative flags and became a successful banner maker, has died at 64.

Her husband, Thomas Jones, told the Los Angeles Times that his wife had been ill for some time, suffering from diabetes. She died last week at their home in Richmond.

In 1971, Jones flew a home-made flag to help guests find her party. The flag attracted the notice of a local reporter. Jones started making and selling appliqued flags and the business got a big boost when she made a special one -- "It's a boy" -- after the birth of her only child.

"It's a way of expressing yourself without having to spend a fortune," she said of her flags.

Jones' company, Festival Flags Unlimited, had sales of $1 million in the mid-1990s, which declined as the flag craze receded. Her customers included NASA, which commissioned a flag for the space shuttle, the National Cathedral in Washington, and the state of Virginia, which wanted a flag to mark Richmond's appearance as a location in a James Garner film.

Neighbors honored Jones with a flag display, including the "It's a boy" banner.

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