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Donald Jones, a long-time resident of Allegheny Independence House apartments, Wilmerding, Pa., died April 3, 2019 at UPMC East Hospital from complications of pneumonia. He would have turned 71 on April 5.
To know Don was to love him. He was an upbeat, joyous person who never had a bad thing to say about anyone or anything. His relentlessly positive attitude helped him to deal with serious, life-long disability caused by cerebral palsy.
Several of the caring, giving people who worked as his attendants ended up becoming his dearest friends even after they left his employment. One of them, Dorothy Ross, was the angel sent by God to love Don after his mother, Sally, passed 20 years ago. Don remained in touch with school friends for more than half-a-century. His best friend, the late Lori Parchman, who lived at Independence House, could always make him laugh.
Don was a graduate of Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. He helped pioneer the use of assistive-technology devices for people with speaking difficulties. In the 1980s, he attended a program at Temple University in Philadelphia at which he was trained to use one of the first such devices. He was such an adept user -- and fine writer -- that he was invited to speak at an international conference in Europe. He gave presentations at the University of Pittsburgh and at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg.
He loved to spend hours on his computer sending email and watching YouTube videos. But it was an increasing challenge for Don to communicate as he grew older and lost the limited flexibility he had in his wrists and hands.
To be sure, Don had disappointments. His greatest desire, to hold a job, was never fulfilled despite his razor-sharp intelligence and indomitable will.
Don loved everything James Bond, and the movie "Patton." He loved fast cars, including Bond's silver Aston Martin. He loved the young comic Bill Cosby and the singing trio Peter, Paul and Mary, and he attended their performances in Pittsburgh. He loved Smothers Brothers comedy albums before the brothers got their CBS TV show in the '60s.
Don loved eating, especially shrimp and anything Italian. He rowed in the Bayada Nurses river regattas. He was a good reader and liked thrillers. He definitely liked pretty girls and would take the occasional beer if you offered him one. He loved Kit and Kat, his house cats. He loved travel and once visited his mother's family home in Killarney, Scotland.
He had no interest -- zero -- in sports.
Donald C. Jones Jr. is survived by his beloved Dorothy; his friends Barb and Tammi; his cousin, Tom Infield of Wayne, Pa., and his many other friends.
There will be no funeral. A memorial service will be held at a date to be determined. Arrangements entrusted to Alfieri Funeral Home, Inc., 201 Marguerite Ave, Wilmerding, 15148, 412-824-4332. Please visit us at www.alfierifuneralhome.com for online condolences.