One Down, Three Left
by Jaron Summers
When you go to college you meet people and if you’re lucky one or two often become friends. In my case, I met three guys. We became friends for life. We were roommates at BYU together. There was Darrell, Kent and Dennis. I was very lucky.
Darrell Jones made a hundred times more money than the other three of us put together. Maybe a thousand times more.
Darrell died off the coast of Mexico last week. So did his wife.
Darrell’s first wife and a great friend of mine phoned and asked me to write a eulogy for their daughter, Trinette, to read at the funeral.
Here it is:
My father, Darrell Jones, was born on August 4th in 1945 in Seattle, Washington.
Two days later, the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. That same year somebody invented ballpoint pens, Coca-Cola was trademarked and Macy’s held their first Thanksgiving Day Parade.
To paraphrase Charles Dickens – it was the worst of times and the best of times for Baby Darrell.
With America the victor in the Second World War, the future held unlimited possibilities…and dangers.
Darrell’s father – my grandfather – was an aviator, one of the nation’s finest, but within 13 months both Darrell’s father – Marvin Leon Pratt and his wife, Roberta Reynolds, perished in an airplane crash near Nome, Alaska. Grandfather was flying the plane, Grandmother was the flight attendant. So much for great aviators.
My father was suddenly an orphan.
The young Pratt family had visited the Jones family several months earlier. The Jones family had a son – Gary. He was almost the same age as Darrell. They were cousins and got along great.
The Jones family took the 13-month-old boy into their home and showered him with love and affection. They raised their two boys almost as twins, often buying each of them similar clothing and toys.
The boys were given the nicknames Barney and Fred since their schoolmates thought they looked like characters out of the Flintstones.
The name Barney or Barn stuck with my father for the rest of his life.
The two brothers did fine in high school. My father was elected student body president. The two boys went on missions for the LDS church on the same day. My father served two years and worked in the mission office.
Our grandmother claims she only took the switch to her boys once or twice, and that was when they tried to ride logs floating in the lake. They could have been seriously injured or killed. My father liked to take chances.
Indeed, my father was drawn to risk taking. He flirted with death on many occasions. He almost died when he crashed a motorcycle a few years ago. He wasn’t wearing a helmet. He took an interest in skydiving. He even rode a wild bronco when he was far too old to think of being a cowboy. He did a little wing walking.
One of his BYU roommates, Jaron Summers, tells a story of my father suggesting they shoot the Provo River in a couple of large inner tubes.
Summers, somewhat reluctant, drove to a high point in the river whereupon my father tossed their inner tubes in and talked Summers into jumping on one.
“I thought we were going to be killed,” says Summers. “If there had been any broken logs or debris we would have been impaled. The angels were watching out for us and we finally made it to fairly smooth water. Then Barn starts yelling – ‘get to shore, get to shore.'”
“I did and asked why we had to leave the seemingly calm river.”
“Barn pointed to a sinkhole in the river that emptied into a swirling pit deep in the earth. It would have swallowed us both alive.”
“‘Why didn’t you t-t-tell me about that?’ stammered Summers.”
“‘If I had,’ said Barn, ‘you would have been too chicken to run the river.'”
The same devil may care, high-risk attitude made my father rich in business. He lost several small fortunes but ended up amassing a large energy company.
Beneath my father’s high-risk business ventures, he often weighed the odds and had, according to Wally Skidmore, a Seattle attorney, “an almost uncanny ability to seize business opportunities before others saw them.” Wally and Barney attended law school at the University of Utah, graduating in 1973. “Barn always said he would never practice law, he wanted to go into business.”
My father also went to law school with Kent Whitley. My father said Kent was a genius. The two become lifelong friends. Dad said he had to study much harder than Kent and that if it had not been for Kent and Wally he would never had made it through law school.
My father married my mother, JoAnne Averett, May 28th, 1969, in the Salt Lake Temple. They were married for twenty years and had four children: Justin Darrell Jones, Mistilyn Roberta Jones, Darrick Robert Jones and me. My father loved being a dad and spent countless hours nurturing and playing with his kids. His family was always number one in his life. He was a role model for many other young people.
Mother says, “The kids have so many fond memories of family vacations with their dad. He was a wonderful grandfather and totally doted on them. He was an extremely playful and loving grandfather.”
My father held many positions in the church but his favorite was working with the youth. As teachers’ quorum advisor he touched the lives of many young men. He devoted much of his time to creating life-changing experiences for these young men, many of whom are here today.
Gregory Tate wrote that my father changed his life.
“Never once did Barn even hint that he was sacrificing anything. He was truly there because he wanted to share some experiences with us, and make a difference in our lives. I was so lucky to have a role model like that. Teenage boys can go just about any direction at a certain point in their lives, and Barney showed us so clearly how important it was to do the right things, and make the right decisions.
“I was the luckiest of all because, in addition to being our teachers’ quorum advisor, Barn and his family moved two doors down from us on Lake Sammamish and I got to be neighbors with them.
“On the 4th of July, the Joneses always had the biggest fireworks display.”
My father loved the lake and shared it with his friends and family. He built a tree house that he was very proud of. He loved to pull waterskiers behind his boat at high speeds. He liked to ski faster than anyone. And usually did.
My father and Cindy were married June 28, 1996. They lived in Carnation on what they called the farmhouse. Cindy has two children. His new family raised Arabian horses and during this time bought Sensi – a vessel fit for a king. It could sleep twenty or keep two hundred and twenty awake.
My father looked forward to taking his family and friends on vacations all over the world in one of the most astonishing toys any man ever owned.
But it’s not for his toys or his money that I miss him. It’s for his love and support. I was looking forward so much to having him at my marriage and walking me down the aisle. It makes me so sad my father won’t share in the day we talked about so many times.
Earlier this week, my father and Cindy were aboard the Sensi off the coast of Mexico. They had just explored a small river on Wave Riders and were returning.
You have all heard of the tragic accident, my father’s Wave Rider capsized. It appears he had a heart attack. My father, ever the risk taker, was not wearing a life vest. Neither was Cindy and when she attempted to save my father, the ocean was too much for her.
There is no doubt that my father was a risk taker. He took incredible chances. He nearly always won. But no one can win forever. In those years that my father was with us, we shall always be reminded that it’s possible to beat incredible odds and be a great guy…most of the time.
Do me a favor. Buckle your seat belt and wear a life jacket.