A story is told of William Booth who was writing a sermon of encouragement to send around the world when the Salvation Army was in its early days. The message was to go by telegram and, charged by the letter, since finances were sparse all the budget could stretch to was just one word. That word that Booth came up with: … “OTHERS”.
“OTHERS” … we believe our dad devoted his life to implementing that one word sermon in pretty much all that he did. He taught us more about being unselfish than some of the great writers and activists could ever do.
From creating stories out of thin air at bedtime; devoting his love and time to all the grandchildren of whom he was so proud, creating family traditions by setting legendary birthday treasure hunts or making Donald Duck noises; he was always present in the moment with the sole exception of when he was asleep, which being honest was another regular but also loveable aspect of his character. He was renowned for the fashion icon of socks with sandals but also his bushy Caterpillar eyebrows, which he wiggled at the grand children and others to catch their attention and raise a smile.
We knew him as a man of integrity, not willing to turn a blind eye to injustice or even the most minor dishonestly. He was a man of his word and was dedicated and committed to anything he turned his hand to.
His service for others is wide and varied. He ran a swimming club with a name, “Paisley Puppies”, which would put you in jail these days. Actually it came from his humour and referred to teaching children to swim “Doggie Paddle”. In the days before health and safety he would transport up to 14 children to the pool in his estate car and taught scores of young people to swim. He also taught many children to play a musical instrument, and more recently to read at local primary schools. He was never happier in his work for the customs than when he was a welfare officer and able to provide pastoral care for others. Even after his retirement he continued to serve others as a community manager for the Salvation Army in Penge for several years.
The reality is whether he was writing to students studying away from home at university or encouraging those in his church to believe in themselves he rarely put himself first. For the past few years he has increasingly been not only a loving husband but devoted carer for mum, with 53 years of marriage. He possibly had the benefit in later years of being able to turn his hearing aid off?
He brought joy into the room with him, even though his jokes would never earn him enough money to buy a fast car, which as his sons we know would’ve been wasted anyway. But he was rich in spirit and love. He made an art of playing the fool but always endeared himself to others when he did. He was very easy to spot in a crowd with his loud singing, clapping and laugh, we were always able to pick him out in the audience when he supported us at school concerts or am-dram productions – and we were encouraged by it.
We learnt from him how to be a dad but also how to be a man of God.
Every day of our lives we know our dad prayed for us and the rest of the family kneeling at his bedside. On Friday night we found ourselves at his bedside praying for him. It has been tough and will continue to be but we are very grateful for the rest of our family, support and prayers from friends and the huge network of people or to use Paul’s words “Cloud of Witnesses” whom dad has influenced and encouraged over his life.
Albert Einstein as one of the brightest brains ever to have lived is well known for his scientific theories but I would like to share something he said far more profound than The Theory of Relativity, “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile”. Using this equation of Einstein’s I don’t know a person whose life is more worthwhile than my dad’s Don Jones.
Last week after a lifetime of living for others and bringing a kingdom of love and grace to those he met our dad passed away peacefully. We believe he is now enjoying that kingdom and will enrich it with his personality.
With Love From Your Sons; Ian, Stuart & Alastair