Boston University professor David Jones, who died in Dorchester on Sept. 11, was an accomplished scholar, lifelong music lover, and above all, a caring father and husband, according to an obituary posted this week.
Jones died last week after falling through a rusted-out set of stairs near JFK/UMass MBTA station while on a run. He was 40 years old.
“His death has left a void for his family and community that cannot be filled,” read the obituary, which appeared on a website that also provided details for his funeral services.
Jones was described as a devoted teacher who people often sought out for thoughtful conversations because of “an utterly magnetic personality and an irresistibly contagious laugh.”
“His sense of humor could switch from dry wit to disarmingly silly in an instant,” the obituary said, and the silliness came out in particular around his three children. Jones also is survived by his wife, Sarah Sacuto.
“David was the ultimate fun dad,” his obituary read, describing how he took his family on trips throughout the United States and abroad, hiking and visiting art galleries. He also shared his love of the New York Yankees and Liverpool Football Club with his kids. He sang the Liverpool anthem to them every night, the obituary said.
“He constantly evaluated and reevaluated his actions and decisions in his aim of providing a stable and loving home alongside the love of his life,” the tribute continued.
At BU, Jones taught in the Department of Health Law, Policy and Management as an associate professor. At the time of his death, he was working on a book about public health in the Mississippi Delta region and had done years of hands-on research there, according to his obituary.
“I came to better understand that racism is more than bad people intentionally harming someone else they view as inferior,” he wrote about the research experience, according to the obituary. “It can take that form, but it is also people — sometimes including me — who believe they are not racist but who are unable to acknowledge or unwilling to change the systems that structurally benefit them while disadvantaging entire groups.”
The obituary said that Jones was inspired by this research to get more involved in lessening the inequities in his own community and became a steering committee member of the Milton Anti-Racist Coalition.
“In that role and throughout his life, he loved to have deep conversations where he would listen intently to the perspectives of others,” the obituary said.
Though Jones lived in Milton, he was born in Utah and raised in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City.
He attended McGill University in Montreal as an undergraduate, and ultimately earned his doctorate in Health Services, Organization & Policy from the University of Michigan. Jones received accolades throughout his academic career, including an Excellence in Teaching Award at BU’s School of Public Health. He also authored many scholarly articles on a range of topics and published a book, “Exchange Politics: Opposing Obamacare in Battleground States.”
Beyond his academic pursuits, he loved listening to and performing music. When he was younger, in addition to working at his beloved Yankee Stadium as a food vendor, Jones also played the clarinet, guitar, bass guitar, and saxophone at many gigs in New York, according to the obituary. His favorite band was Phish, and he attended 78 of their performances.
Jones’s death has raised questions about who was responsible for the condition and upkeep of the staircase, and sparked investigations from the Suffolk district attorney and governor’s offices.
BU School of Public Health organized a GoFundMe for Jones’ wife and children. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made there.
A public service will be held for Jones at the Alfred D. Thomas Funeral Home, 326 Granite Ave., in Milton from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 19. A virtual and in-person memorial service also will be held at Boston University School of Public Health from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 23.
Colleen Cronin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.