After surviving a helicopter crash, Don Jones, 85 dies after a brief illness

srobertsjr@vagazette.com

After 85 years of life and a helicopter crashing into his home, Don Leckron Jones died on Aug. 27 after a brief illness.

Jones was born May 29, 1933, in Hagerstown, Md.

Jones served in the army for two years, spending time in Korea and in Japan.

“He talked about that a lot,” his wife of 47 years Maryjo Jones said. “He said he never had fried rice any better for the rest of his life.”

After the Army, Jones got a job as an engineer with the Penguin Corporation in Maryland, where he spent nearly all of his adult life.

Don Jones met his future wife Maryjo on a blind date at a cocktail lounge; They married two years later.

“Don liked his bars,” Maryjo Jones said. “The bourbon and Coke and Manhattans with extra cherries came later in life.”

When his daughter’s family moved to Williamsburg 18 years ago, both Don and Maryjo Jones followed about a year later, moving into the newly built Bristol Commons condominium complex in the city.

Family game night was where Don really came alive, Maryjo Jones said.

“We just loved it everytime we got the whole family together,” she said. “Don pretended like he didn’t know what he was doing and then he’d come in close or win.”

At Cogan’s Deli in New Town, Jones was a regular for the past two years — drinking Manhattans with extra cherries or bourbon and Coca-Cola at the 3 p.m. happy hour.

Rarely seen without a hat and a white turtleneck, Jones wore simple clothes but enjoyed cooking complex dishes.

Almost daily, Jones would venture from home in his blue 2007 Mercury Marquis to the grocery store to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, but his one true culinary love was pasta.

Nothing would bring a smile to his face more than cooking up his own homemade pasta fresca.

The lives of both Don and Maryjo Jones came thundering down when a helicopter crashed into their home in Bristol Commons on July 8.

Jones ran out of the house wearing just his pajamas immediately after the aircraft hit the complex, surviving despite losing most of his and his wife’s material possessions.

One resident and the pilot of the aircraft died in the crash.

After their home was destroyed, the couple lived out of the Embassy Suites hotel on Mooretown Road for almost a month.

The cramped space left Don Jones kitchenless, but he said with confidence that he could rough it for a year at the hotel if he had to. It was a long stay, but the Joneses moved into an apartment near Quarterpath Road in Williamsburg Aug. 7.

Less than three weeks later, Don Jones died.

The family will hold a private celebration of his life.

Roberts can be reached at 757-604-1329 or on Twitter @SPRobertsJr.

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