Friends, family remember Evan Jones

By Mary Reines

Justin Surgent/Daily Collegian

As the sun set over the Fine Arts Center, Evan Jones’ friends and family quietly lit dozens of tea candles for his vigil on Oct. 20, the day that would have been the University of Massachusetts sophomore’s 20th birthday.

About 100 people gathered on the grassy island in the Haigis Mall to honor Jones, the UMass student who was found dead in his dorm room on Sept. 7.

Kappa Sigma, Jones’ fraternity, planned the service. Michael Wiseman, director of the Greek Life program at the University of Massachusetts, compared the candles to birthday candles as he addressed the crowd.

Wiseman spoke about Jones’ uplifting funeral service, and mentioned that Jones’ mother, Kristan Bagley Jones, had recalled that Jones was born three weeks early, but he still managed to weigh about nine pounds.

“He came early, he came large,” Wiseman said. “He lived that way.”

When it was time for Jones’ family to speak, his mother called up all of the people from Milton, his hometown, to stand with them. She stood with her husband, Don Jones, their daughter Ally and about 20 Milton residents as she spoke to the sea of UMass students. She said that her family and the Milton community appreciated the vigil.

“It really means a lot to us,” she said.

She remembered the night that he died and said that he was very happy at the time. She added jokingly that he had actually called to ask for some money because he had lost his credit card. Smiles spread across the candlelit faces as listeners chuckled.

Jones’s mother supposed that his epileptic condition was the cause of his death. He had to leave UMass the semester before to maintain his health.

“He had a chronic disease. We thought it was under control, but it wasn’t,” she said.

The cause of his death is still under ongoing investigation.

Jones’s sister Ally, a senior in high school, spoke after her mother, speaking about a time when she came with Jones to UMass in February. It was her birthday, so he bought her a UMass lanyard, which is now her keychain, and a pack of Sour Patch Kids candy. She smiled between her tears as she recalled the story.


Jones’s father spoke last and expressed his appreciation for the UMass community.

“I know he was excited to be back here,” he said. “Kristan and I attended UMass too.”

Wiseman directed the crowd in singing “Amazing Grace” towards the end of the ceremony. Many of the attendees were part of UMass Greek life, standing together in large groups and proudly wearing their letters.

According to Jake Vitrofsky, president of Kappa Sigma, members of at least three sororities and four fraternities were in attendance. Vitrofsky, along with Wiseman, directed the service, and he said that Jones exemplified the fraternity’s values. He recited the fraternity’s creed as evidence.

He said that Jones was “a man of honor and courage … One who walks in the light of God.”

Taylor Marrs, a member of Kappa Sigma, said that he had met Jones his freshman year.

“He was always happy,” Marrs said. “He made a difference in my life. I’m really glad I got to know him.”

The service lasted about an hour and ended at the Newman Center with drinks and cookies. Members of Kappa Sigma greeted attendees warmly.

Mary Reines can be reached at [email protected]