Feed The Children has cut ties with Frances Jones, who founded the charity 31 years ago with husband Larry Jones.
Her departure comes almost 14 months after the charity's board fired Larry Jones, who was serving as charity president.
Her last months were bitter ones. She said in August, “They want to get rid of me.”
The Oklahoma City-based charity announced in a short statement Friday that Frances Jones, 69, resigned.
“Mrs. Jones has expressed a desire to spend more time on personal matters,” the statement said. “We are grateful for her past service as a co-founder of the organization. We accept her decision to resign and wish her well in all future endeavors.”
Larry Jones, 70, said, “That's a lie. They asked her to leave. I'm going to clean up the lie. They asked her to leave last September. That's all I want to say. … I'm tired of their lying. I'm just downright tired of all the lies that they've told.”
Sources told The Oklahoman the charity's board “bought out” Frances Jones' two-year contract.
Her contract was to have expired July 31, court records show. Her salary under the contract was $200,000 a year.
Larry and Frances Jones built the Christian relief organization into one of the largest and most recognized charities in the nation. Donations grew to as much as $1.19 billion a year, records show.
They became the faces of the charity, known from their appearances in heart-wrenching televised appeals for donations. They often were seen in late-night TV spots with emaciated children in Africa and elsewhere.
The two began dating at Oklahoma City University after Larry Jones, then a basketball player, was chosen to crown her as homecoming queen, according to Larry Jones' biography, “Keep Walking.”
Frances Jones said her last day was Dec. 31. She did not want to comment further. “It doesn't really matter now,” she said.
Her attorney, Gary Richardson of Tulsa, said, “She was ready to leave. I think they were ready for her to leave. We were able to work out a mutual agreeable condition. I've represented her for several months now.”
Frances Jones' successes with the charity included the opening of a center for abandoned babies inKenya. Richardson said in August she raised $40 million for the project.
Her last years at the charity were marked by a bitter power struggle between the board and her husband. The board has accused Larry Jones of repeated wrongdoing, including the acceptance of bribes.
She has stood by her husband.
She left at a tumultuous time for her personally. Her son, Allen Jones, 46, committed suicide Dec. 19 in Oklahoma City, police reported. He shot himself in the head, police said.
Allen Jones was unemployed and in November filed a bankruptcy case after Feed The Children sued him. The first hearing in the bankruptcy case was set for Dec. 21, police said.
The lawsuit alleged Allen Jones secretly stripped a charity food distribution warehouse in Elkhart, Ind., “of countless truckloads of materials” and used “the improperly gained profits … to purchase illegal drugs.” Allen Jones did not work for the charity, but the lawsuit said he was involved in the management of the warehouse.
The charity estimated the damages to the warehouse exceeded $5 million.
Larry Jones still is pursuing a lawsuit over his termination. He is scheduled to give a deposition this week.
Their daughter, Larri Sue Jones, was fired from the charity in July. She, too, is suing over her termination. She has been at odds with her parents for years.
Last week, Feed The Children dismissed its federal lawsuit against Cross MediaWorks, a New York ad agency that bought airtime for the charity's TV spots. The charity said it had reached an agreement that “allows both parties to continue to do business together.”