February 14, 1927
September 10, 2021
Donald D. Jones went home to his savior Jesus Christ on September 10, 2021. We have lost another member of the Greatest Generation. On February 14, 1927 in a farmhouse on the Cimarron River near Kingfisher, Oklahoma, Hugh Jones assisted his wife, Florence (nee Wells) Jones in delivering Don into this life. Don’s childhood encountered the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma. Don assisted his father in the contract combining business for several years, traveling from Texas to North Dakota, before being drafted at 17 years of age into the U.S. Army from the Selective Service office in Lemmon, South Dakota. Don served with the 3rd Army under General George S. Patton including service during the Battle of the Bulge. After VE day and during the Marshall Plan, Don served at the 3rd Army headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany until his tour of duty concluded. He received an honorable discharge in May 1947 and returned to Hettinger, North Dakota where he married Shirley Lenore Hendricks on June 1, 1948.
After farming, building dams and operating a fresh produce company in Hettinger with his older brother Dale Jones, Don and Shirley followed Dale and Josephine Jones and moved to Oak Lawn, Illinois in 1954. Don worked for Larkin Equipment Company and obtained a Master Mechanics license as a diesel mechanic. Later in life, Don also became a Master Electrician. At Larkin, Don began his successful sales career. He moved on from Larkin and became a salesman with Patton Industries, the Caterpillar dealership for Northern Illinois. Don took on the Will, Kankakee and Grundy Counties territory and moved his family to Elwood, Illinois. After selling construction and road maintenance equipment, Don spearheaded the sales of Caterpillar diesel truck engines to the trucking industry on behalf of Patton and Caterpillar. In addition to selling Caterpillar products, Don served as Jackson Township Highway Commissioner for 12 years building six or more new bridges and keeping the roads plowed in the winters. He employed teenagers as laborers to provide experience for the future. He was the President of the Illinois Township Highway Commissioners in 1971. He also joined Masonic Lodge #919 and became a Past Master of the Lodge.
Don filed for and received two mechanical U.S. Patents for his ground breaking work in four wheel drive agricultural tractors. He worked for and eventually purchased Elwood Manufacturing Co., Inc. and sold front wheel drive transfer cases and axles to International Harvestor Co. and Minneapolis Moline for installation on their tractors in the 1970s and into the 1980s. He trained many employees in machining, welding and manufacturing.
Don and Shirley designed and built a residence in Elwood in 1964 and then again in Branson, Missouri in 1994 with Don doing the carpentry, plumbing and electrical work on both houses. In 2006, Don and Shirley moved to Brenham, Texas to be closer to their grandchildren. Don bought a tractor, two bottom plow and disc to farm his newly purchased 10 acres.
Don also taught himself how to play the piano, guitar, organ and violin. He loved his music and wrote several songs. When visiting Shirley at Kruse Village he would play the piano for the residents and he performed at Cowboy Church in Brenham and Silver Dollar City in Branson.
Don was a multi-talented man and a loving husband, father, and grandfather. He was beloved and will be missed by all that knew him. He will be remembered for his wildly entertaining stories, his bursts into songs, his teasing, his work ethic, his willingness to help others, and his willingness to see the best in every situation. In the face of adversity, we all looked to him for his steadfast positive attitude. He always greeted us with a smile, kindness and love.
Don is survived by his son Michael and daughter in law Carla, grandsons Sterling and Hamilton, granddaughter Celeste, daughter Theresa, and great grandson, Ellis. His daughters, Shari and Debra, and his wife, Shirley, predeceased him and he is with them now. Due to the pandemic, no services are planned at this time.