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Gregory Donovan Jones

August 9, 2020

I first encountered Greg in one-on-one tackling drills during freshman football practice. I remember thinking to myself that he looks slow. During the first round, he was the ball carrier and slowly trampled me; the second round, I was the ball carrier, and he shortened my back about an inch without a trace of rancor. I might as well have been trying to tackle a tree trunk or run through a tank trap. Although we were both English majors, Greg and I saw each other only sporadically over the next three years.

Greg was born in Oakland, CA but raised and educated in Lexington, MA, graduating from Lexington High School in 1962. On entering Yale, Greg went out for freshman football and lacrosse, performing well enough to be invited to try out for the varsity teams, both of which he made. Upon graduation, Greg entered the Peace Corps and was sent to Maiduguri, Nigeria, where Greg taught math and coached boys’ basketball for two years before returning to the US and working as a software engineer, eventually in his own independent practice. Not bad for an English major! In the meanwhile, the satisfaction Greg derived from his Peace Corps experience drew him back to Nigeria in 2008 on a FON (Friends of Nigeria) sponsored trip, during which he became actively involved with the Fantsuam Foundation, a volunteer non-profit focusing on opportunities for women and children in central Nigeria.

Back in the US, Greg’s altruism was focused on his home community of Stow, MA, where he served nearly a decade as selectman and member of the Master-Plan Committee, the school building committee and the Land Bank among other entities. Greg was very much interested in and involved with affordable housing. He helped establish the Stow Housing Authority which he served as treasurer from 2003 until his death.

Greg was diagnosed with multiple myeloma after experiencing excruciating back pain in 2012, despite which he continued to serve the many charitable and service organizations of which he had become an integral part. He was heavily involved in the First Parish Church of Stow and Acton for nearly 40 years, serving as parish chair, finance member and treasurer.

Greg was a patient and supportive father to his children, whom he schooled in the virtues and rewards of hard work. The word “serve” and its derivatives appear often in any accounting of Greg’s life. He was truly an other-directed person, giving generously of his time and effort to worthy causes that needed him. None were dearer to his heart than Friends of Nigeria, which he served and supported selflessly throughout his adult life. I am grateful our paths crossed at least briefly. I wish they had done so more often.

Lynn Harrison