Cover photo for Irvin James Jones's Obituary
1951 Irvin 2020

Irvin James Jones

May 3, 1951 — January 9, 2020

It is with heavy hearts that Irvin’s loved ones let you know that he passed away peacefully on January 9th, 2020.

Irvin came from a very large Italian / Irish family growing up in SE Portland.  He was born to Verna and Jake Jones in Portland, Oregon on the 3rd of May 1951.  Born at Emmanuel, he was a native Oregonian and loved the outdoors.  He went to Abernathy Grade school and graduated from Washington High School in 1969.  Irvin grew up fast, losing his beloved grandfather, Rosario Molinaro (aka Ross Miller) in 1963, and then four years later when Irvin was just 16 years old, his brother, PFC Thomas Jake Jones, was killed on July 4th, 1967 in the Vietnam war.  These two events in Irvin’s life shaped him to become a very strong willed, protective and passionate person.   Irvin made many friends at school, that he remained close to his whole life.   Irvin married Loretta Smith in 1972 and moved to Centralia Washington working in the local lumber mill.   Irvin, always a very emotional expressive person, was very saddened when his marriage ended, and so he moved back to Portland in 1981 to the comfort of his mother, stepfather and sisters.   He was very close to his family and enjoyed the Holidays and was always the life of the party.  His teasing and fun-loving ways made everyone laugh and enjoy themselves, especially because they were with him.   Thanksgiving was his favorite as he was a very spiritual person and had a strong faith in God.

Shortly after returning to Portland, he landed a job at Precision Castparts Corporation and worked there for over 10 years.  He made many friends there and enjoyed his job as a machine operator very much.  Then, on April 1st, 1984, he entered the happiest days of his life when he met his forever love and soulmate, Linda Lee Carl.   Irvin married Linda on June 11th 1988 and had a very happy home life.  After his time at Precision, Irvin worked for K&K Color lab, Ashforth Pacific, and Goodwill Industries.  Irvin was a fantastic cook.   As a child, he learned from his Grandmother and Mother wonderful classic Italian recipes.  He loved to barbecue, and his family loved to join in the wonderful food he would prepare.   Irvin was always a high energy person, giving all his energy to his careers and was very proud to let you know he never once called in sick.  Irvin loved working on his classic cars, his home and garden.  He was a perfectionist and wanted to do things his way, because after all, that was the best way.

He will be greatly missed and loved forever by his family, friends and neighbors.  He is preceded in death by his parents, his mother and father in-law , and his brother.   He is survived by his beautiful wife Linda, his sister in-law Sheila Matthews, his sister Debbie Vilcko and her husband Steve, his sister Heidi Branscomb and her husband Tom, nephews Thomas Charbonneau and Gabriel Vilcko, and many many cousins and friends.

Eulogy for Irvin

Written by his sister, Heidi Branscomb

Thank you all for coming today. I know Irvin is smiling down from Heaven happy to see all of you here to pay your respects to him. My brother Irvin, meant the world to me . I would have done anything for him. I loved him so much and I always will. He was like an icon in my life. A stabilizing force, We were close. My big brother Irvin, the lone ranger, as he would call himself, tough in spirit and steadfast in love has moved onward and upward as he would say. -- He believed death was just the next dimension….he wasn’t afraid of it, or anything. He knew that his guardian angels would see him safely home someday to be with God and all his friends and relatives that have gone before him, especially his father, that he wanted to see and visit with so desperately, that he never really got the chance to be with here on earth. He is celebrating with him now and is at peace, with his parents, his brother and that large Italian Irish family and circle of friends that loved him with a passion……like all of us do, that are here. He was really a very spiritual person and believed everything happens for a reason, and that there are no coincidences. Like the fact he died on his beloved mother in law Carita Carl’s bday, 1/9, and reminded Linda just a day or two before he died, how much he loved Carita. I can just imagine the welcome party for Irvin that night when he arrived in heaven….right into a birthday bash for Carita. It was a wonderful family that Irvin’s wife Linda gave to him. He loved Sheila and Linda’s Dad Leon Carl, and her aunts and cousins too. Her people became his people. Linda was the best thing that ever happened to my brother. He met her on April Fool’s day 1984, but he was no fool. He married her on 6/11/88 and had nearly 36 joyful years with her. He always felt their wedding anniversary was the day he met her, rather than their actual wedding day, because they were together from the day they met and never broke up. He was an inspiration in many ways. He was so hard working…. Ever since he was a little boy….I remember my Dad liked to tell the family the story about Irvin, a little guy of 4 or 5 years old, running down to carry my Dad’s “Sea bag” as he was coming off the ship when he had shore leave in Portland back when my Dad first met my Mom around 1955 ….and soon after stepped in as step father for Irvin and our older brother Tommy. --- Irvin helped around the house and yard as a kid and took great pride in keeping his things top notch. Whether it was putting 10 or more coats of wax on his cars, cleaning inside the house….getting up at dawn working in his yard for hours before anyone else got up. He is who you wanted in the house. My mom loved it. He carried that on his whole adult married life. Impeccable house, yard, cars…..he was incredible. He had so much energy, he was force of nature. I remember when he would clean up the bus stop near his home on 64th and Sandy because he just couldn’t stand the gross litter and graffiti on and around the bus shelter. His neighbors spotted him doing this clean up …often….as he would go up there to clean it all the time. One of his neighbors actually called Trimet to let them know what a good Samaritan they had in Irvin and Trimet sent Irvin a certificate of appreciation and even cleaning supplies to make removing the graffiti easier for him. He was really proud of that and we were very proud of him . He was like that with everything he did ….. over the top. Played hard, worked hard, loved hard, …. Big emotions in every way with him. He was up front, honest to fault and believed “The truth will set you free” but sometimes that would get him in to trouble because he spoke his mind boldly and it could hurt sometimes. But you always knew where you stood with Irvin. He would love you, fight with you, make up with you, disagree with you, argue, with you, he was always running at the top of his emotional game with whatever he did –---he was passionate about Everything. --He was flirtatious, liked to portray the bad boy type, but was really the little boy type that wanted only to please those he loved. I remember the parade of girls that would come to the house when we were kids. They’d show up one after the other on the front porch, knocking on the door, looking for Irvin, in their go go boots and mini skirts in the late 60’s early 70’s when Irvin was just 17 or 18 years old, Tommy was gone, Debbie was 12, I was 6, ….and he would run upstairs and hide and tell me and Debbie to tell them “ Oh, we’re sorry, Irvin’s not home right now” …they’d say, well, his car is here? ….and we’d have to think of something real quick to say like…..”Oh, he went with Dave, or Kip, or Eddie or Dale… …. We’ll tell him you came by! Then, after the coast was clear, he’d run down the stairs and want to know all the details of what they said and what we told them. He was a good looking guy….steele blue eyes … dark hair…great sense of humor….. He didn’t have any trouble getting dates with the girls. Irvin made a good living, but always wanted more out of life with his careers and would work tons of overtime to provide for his wife and family. Irvin was huge LA Laker Fan, Dallas Cowboys, and he loved the San Francisco 49’ers. He loved the Super Bowl and I’m sure he would be very happy knowing that the 49’s are going to the Superbowl this year. Many times with Wayne and Laura and the boys, Tom and I celebrated Super Bowl Sunday with Irvin and Linda. Super Bowl was something he was passionate about and said he saw every single one. I got him a 49’s soft throw this past Christmas and Linda said he really liked it……I knew he would Irvin was a cat person….he loved dogs too, his infamous boxer named Mitsu, he had as a boy, but he was a cat person at heart…..He loved all of his kitties ---- He had Sue Sue, Lepechin, Ashley, Stevie Ray and Sammy Ray, Harpo, Maddie Rose, Houdini and Jazzy….not all at once of course, but he loved them all the same. Research shows, that it’s a sensitive man who loves cats. That was Irvin. A sensitive man. -- He loved the Oregon coast, the Gorge, Mt Hood National forest, especially Cannon Beach and Lockaby camp ground ..I have many fond memories of times with him at these places. He loved to fish, hike, and breath in the great outdoors. ---He put in a vegetable garden every year, and loved to tend to his roses and go to Portland nursery for supplies. He loved to Dance…..he didn’t need any lessons….he gave the lessons ….he took command of the dance floor sometimes out and about …but mostly at home as he preferred to hang around the home fires and party there, throwing summer bbq’s in his beautiful backyard. He would bbq like no other… old fashioned style on the weber charcoal bbq ‘er …..adding wood chips from his cherry tree, or hickory, or some other wood he had, for flavoring the meat…. He was a gifted cook. – He could have had a wonderful restaurant and made a fortune. Making replicas of Grandmothers meatballs, the closet taste of anyone’s in the family to Grandmas……He learned from her as she lived with us when we were kids after Grandpa died. – Cooking meatballs all started for me when we would have these spaghetti and meatball parties at Halloween in the late 80’s / early 90’s ….we’d go in together on all the meat and cheese and cook 90 or more …all pan fried in Olive oil He did it the original way….the long way…. The right way….no shortcuts. The aroma of garlic and olive oil would make your think you were back at grandmas or mom’s house, or Auntie Marie’s or Auntie Jenny’s. When he made grandmas basted eggs for you for breakfast, you were transported back to the 1960’s. Who makes basted eggs? They were wonderful. He had the unique ability to make something very special out of something very simple. He really loved to joke and tease with you. …. He loved to take phrases the family would say and expand on them….. His late father in-law Leon Carl, always a compassionate and understanding man with people would say, “Oh, I see” …. When talking to people about their problems…. like “Oh I see” …I understand”. Irvin would put his own spin on it and say “OH I SEE…… OIC ….I SEE HOW YOU ARE!” and then give you that look like he knew you were up to something no good. He loved to tease everyone. He loved to dish it out and let you know he was in control …. He used to say: “Oh… Bella Robe”….which was an Italian phrase he got from the family …. …Meaning “pretty clothes” …but he would say it like “Oh Bella Robe”… think you’re really something special “Bella Robe” …well, you’re not!” When he’d explain his opinion and views on a subject, in great detail, he would follow it up with “Capeesh”? You would think sometimes you were dealing with some old school mafia guy! He was hilarious. If I didn’t’ call him at least every other day, he’d call me up and say “ What’s a matter ? Can’t you crook your finger”? …which was something our Mom used to say. He had all the memories and stories of growing up …much more than mine since he was 12 years older than me…. He shared the good, the bad, and the ugly with me….I was his friend and his sister. He had nick-names for everyone…. Even himself….he would liken himself in the kitchen to Emeril Lagasse…..saying he was “Ruby Bonacci”, since Bonacci was our grandmother’s maiden name. Mine was Kitty or Mother Theresa …… He called Linda “Shanna Putum” which means Pretty Face, which was the name of one of Carita’s cats….. He called Sheila the Queen, or SHEE LAA…. and Carita was Zsa Zsa or the Bank of Finland. Tommy and Gabriel, his nephews, were known as “Yogi and Boo Boo”, My husband Tom was always Captain Tom, Debbie was Betta Lou, and brother in-law Steve was Stevie Wonder. --When I think of Irvin, I can’t compare him to anyone else…. He was like no other… an asteroid that hit earth, a comet that only comes around every 10,000 years. He was not the typical guy you would meet. There was a knowing about him, a wisdom that was ethereal … could talk to him about anything and he would have the answers. All these passionate characteristics started to fade a few years ago. It happened slowly, and over a long period of time. Linda knows. Linda cared for him the whole time. She wasn’t going anywhere. She stayed by him. She’s like Ruth from the Bible; Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. During the last 8 months especially, it became obvious to me to what degree his health was failing. I mistook his refusal to be around me as sibling jealousy or anger over something stupid, but it wasn’t. It was the illness he was suffering from. I just didn’t want to believe it. I understand it now. No apology needed…… I wouldn’t get one anyway. I don’t need it. I went from talking to him or seeing him almost daily for 39 years since he moved back down here to Portland from Centralia, to only seeing him a few times during the last year of his life. He didn’t want me to see what was happening to him, he had a lot of pride and he didn’t want me to know or see how ill he was getting. Linda, on the other hand, went through it all for him and was caregiving him for several years before he died. Thank you Linda, for your love and care you had for my brother. He loved you more than anyone. You were his world and the best thing that ever happened to him. These past 8 months will never erase all the love and good there was in my relationship with my brother. I was lucky. He gave me so much to take with me….all the love he gave me ……he was the best brother anyone could ever have.

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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

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