Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Family, friends remember UMass student Evan Jones

By Mary Reines

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Courtesy of the Jones Famiy

Whether he was building a computer, or playing a pick-up game of basketball or even painting his face for a scavenger hunt, Evan Jones was up for anything.

“No matter what, he’d always say yes,” friend Sam Taugher said of Jones, the 19-year-old University of Massachusetts student who was found dead by campus police in his Washington Tower dorm room on Sept. 7.

“You could just count on him to always be there.”

Officials have yet to determine Jones’ cause of death as they continue to conduct an autopsy.

Jones, a Milton native, was survived by his mother Kristan Bagley Jones, father Don Jones and younger sister Ally.

Jones grew up loving sports and became captain of his high school’s lacrosse and football teams. He was a competitive athlete who enjoyed powerlifting, CrossFit training and a steady intake of chicken and rice.

“He was determined to be a healthy, strong kid,” Jones’ mother said.

Taugher, a sophomore at UMass who met Jones in the first grade, said that he and his friends used to make fun of Jones for his particular eating habits.

“His diet was always hilarious,” he said.

Taugher met Jones on the local soccer team when he moved to Milton in 2000. Both their fathers were coaches for the team, and the families enjoyed cookouts together.

Among his happiest memories with Jones is a trip to Taugher’s Cape Cod house during their senior year of high school. There they were, 12 guys hanging out at the beach, golfing and having a good time. He remembered Jones lifting in the backyard and eating chicken and rice, as usual.

Jones was Taugher’s go-to companion for all kinds of situations.

When Taugher’s girlfriend roped him into attending a concert at the Fine Arts Center, Taugher called up Jones to accompany them.

Julia O’Brien, a UMass junior who went to Milton High School, had a similar experience with Jones during a senior scavenger hunt at the school. One of the tasks was finding a face-painted sophomore wearing a special outfit. She and her friends recruited Jones for the job, and although he was caught off-guard, he didn’t disappoint.

“He’d do crazy things,” she said.

O’Brien remembered Jones as a funny kid who was genuinely nice and always smiling. She often saw him with his group of close friends.

According to his mother, Jones was both physically and emotionally intelligent.

“He could talk about his feelings,” she said.

Jones also liked to argue, and when thinking about what major he would choose at UMass, he considered his stubborn tendencies.

“I love to argue,” he told his mom, “so I think I’m going to be a lawyer.”

Jones was undeclared, but he was also interested in computer science, and he even built his own desktop computer. He brought it to UMass and it still works to this day.

“He liked to use his hands and his head,” his mother said.

Jones was excited about joining Kappa Sigma, a new fraternity at UMass. He and Taugher met with Jake Vitrofsky, the fraternity’s president, who liked Taugher and Jones right away.

Vitrofsy remembered how he and Jones had a mutual love for country music, which they discovered when Vitrofsky’s phone once rang playing “Wagon Wheel” by Darius Rucker.

Jones, who suffered from epilepsy, had to leave school during this past spring semester as his condition worsened. Vitrofsky, worried about his friend’s health, stayed in contact with him over the summer.

“You meet someone like that and you want to make sure they’re OK,” he said.

He remembered Jones’s happiness during a birthday party for one of the fraternity’s members. It was Jones’s first weekend back.

“He was like the happiest person alive,” Vitrofsky said. “It was like seeing a kid in a candy store, and like everyone around is your best friend.”

Vitrofsky and Taugher went to the Easton Corbin concert together at UMass on Sept. 8. Taugher had Jones’s ticket.

“It was really hard to be there knowing that he wouldn’t be there,” Vitrofsky said.

Vitrofsky worked with Kappa Sigma’s national office to have Jones’s name put down as a founding father in the fraternity’s charter.

“He was a good kid, had a good head on his shoulders,” Vitrofsky said. “Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and this is just one of those times.”

The fraternity is planning a candlelight vigil near Haigis Mall for Jones’s birthday on Oct. 20. Vitrofsky hopes that many people will attend.

Taugher thanked his childhood friend for all of the good memories they had together.

“I wish we could have had more,” he said.

Mary Reines can be reached at [email protected]

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