Daniel Jones, 51


On January 28, 2024, Daniel Varian Jones II (Danny), a cherished husband, father, brother, son and all around amazing person said his “goodbyes for now” surrounded by the family and friends he loves and cherishes. Able to finally move his legs with no pain or weakness, Danny immediately reunited with his Siberian Husky, Tosh, put in his AirPods, cranked up a playlist and went for a bike ride in the hills above town. Moving his body was his meditation. The mountains his home. The outdoors his church. Danny lived and died in Woodstock, VT.

Daniel Jones

Born on December 7, 1972 in Stamford CT. and raised in New Canaan, CT. bikes and athletics were central to Danny’s childhood and would come full circle when he moved to Vermont and started his family. Danny was fortunate to have grown up as a “free range child”, given freedom from a young age to choose his own adventure each day. During the long days of Summer, he would spend countless hours building bike trails with his best buddy Ryan Ruggiero or could be found braving the traffic on 123 with a tennis racket bobbing out of his backpack biking to the New Canaan Field Club. Maybe a trip to town to the Sweet Shoppe for a “grab bag” and a ride home to create anything and everything from a box of random Legos. 

Danny grew up playing every sport that was available to him in every season, but his true loves were Ice Hockey and Lacrosse. He was fortunate to have won multiple state championships in both. One of his fondest memories was the hours spent playing “Tish” at the Winter Club with his friends, Scott, Ed, Alex, Dave, Ryan and many others. Partition or “Tish” was a sort of gladiator ring at one end of the rink where age was not a factor. 5- year olds played against 15 year olds. Everyone who played hockey in New Canaan who also played “Tish” was better for it; better at hockey and better friends. 

Danny was a curious, intelligent, unconventional learner that loved to ask questions, research his vast interests and share his learnings with others. As a student, his path was not always linear and more adventure than academic but he chartered his own course and was all the better for his achievements. He was a graduate of the New Canaan Country School, Loomis Chaffee School and Lafayette College. 

In Chester, Vermont, in 1995, Danny re-met, Ann Afragola; a long- time childhood acquaintance. She was busy at a pay-phone talking to another guy. Immediately captivated, Danny likes to think because she hung up on the guy fairly quickly, that she was captivated as well. Wasting no time, Danny promptly made her a “mixed tape”. The gesture worked like a charm and Danny convinced Ann to quit her job working for his father at NewsBank Inc. and drive across country with a 6 month old Siberian Husky. Armed with a paper notebook filled with brewpubs to visit, paper maps and a 10 disc CD changer, their 2 month, 2nd date led to a wedding. 

On July 31, 1999, during a heatwave, Danny and Ann were married in Woodstock, Vermont and celebrated at the Kedron Valley Inn in South Woodstock. Despite running out of beer, a melting cake and drooping flowers, a wonderful time was had by all. Surrounded by their family and closest friends, all danced into the night closing the party with a classic rendition of the Beastie Boys’ “Fight for your Right” with guests of all ages singing the lyrics and pumping their fists. A perfect beginning to their adventure.

Danny carried his love of athletics into adulthood and cherished his days coaching youth hockey and lacrosse in Woodstock. He led with a calmness and confidence in his players and often took a shine to an athlete who was a little harder to take direction as he always saw potential and goodness in people. He taught his players about Grit, Grace and Respect. 

His professional life involved proudly working alongside his father and sisters to grow NewsBank Inc. He left his mark on NewsBank as the Consumer division’s first President by leveraging the companies historical newspaper content and growing GenealogyBank into the successful product that it is today.

More than anything, Danny wanted a family. His Children, Isabel Grace, Daniel Varian III (Trey) and Charles Madison are his greatest achievements and brought him immense joy and pride. His greatest attributes live through them. Izzy, with her sense of humor and persistence, Trey with his athleticism and heart-warming smile and Charlie’s quick wit and intelligence. Through them, Danny’s spirit will shine on.

On October 19, 2021, ALS came into Danny’s life. For two plus years, as we fought as a family, Danny took on ALS with the skills he taught his athletes and children when faced with adversity. Plot a course of action with courage and rely on your inner strength. Danny spent hours researching this beast of a disease and trying everything possible to spend more time with his family. Although the disease took away his physical strength, it didn’t come close to touching his spiritual and emotional strength. All who love Danny are heartbroken but know his fight was courageous and that mountains do not rise without earthquakes.

Danny is survived by his wife and best friend, Ann Jones, his beautiful children, Isabel, Trey and Charlie, his parents Daniel and Susan Jones of Naples, Florida, beloved, supportive sisters Katie Cavanagh (Dan) of Lewisburg, PA and Maggie “Mags” Jones citizen of the world who resides where she is needed most, In-laws, Fred and Betsy Afragola of New Canaan, CT, Sister in Laws Catherine Cobb (Chris) of Danbury, CT., Mary Moore (Curtis) of MontClare, NJ. Danny will be missed by his many nieces and nephews who he shares the love of music, sports and laughter with. Additionally, he leaves behind his brothers by choice Christopher Fleming and Jason Merrill who’s shared adventures enriched his life. 

Our family would like to thank the community that helped us walk and sometimes crawl our way through a life with ALS. Dr. Elijah Stommel who’s honesty and humor we appreciated, Abbie Pascarelli who cared for our family with an angelic strength, Bitsy Harley who kept us organized and accepted our emotions, Doreen Schweizer who served as a spiritual advisor as Danny accepted and transitioned, the VNH hospice, especially Dianne, and all the members of the Woodstock community who supported our family during this challenge. We are forever grateful. 

At Danny’s wishes, we will celebrate his life in early summer with music, friends, stories and love. Stay tuned. Until then, in memory of Danny, be kind, forgive easily and love hard. In lieu of flowers or a desire to memorialize Danny, please consider a donation to Woodstock Youth Hockey or the Woodstock Lacrosse Booster Club.

5 thoughts on “Daniel Jones, 51

  1. I did not know Danny but his obituary made him come to life. It sounds like he packed in a lot of living into the time he was here. My thoughts are with you all.

  2. Danny’s parents and in-laws are good friends. I knew Danny growing up here in New Canaan and followed his exploits in Woodstock through reports from them. The obituary covers everything they always described – a loving husband and father, a committed contributor to his community, a success in his business, and a bright light in the lives of those who knew him. His ALS diagnosis was devastating and “unfair.” I certainly could make no sense of it. At this sad time my unoriginal thought is, “don’t be sad because he’s gone, be happy and grateful that you were privileged to know him.” Recognize that grief is the price we pay for love. God bless Ann and the children.

  3. This is the most beautiful obituary I’ve ever read. My heart goes out to the Jones and Afragola families as they transition from sharing great times with Daniel, to the struggle with ALS and now his passing. God bless Daniel and his mighty soul.

  4. My heart goes out to the Jones and Afragola families. A bright light taken way too soon. May the wonderful memories of Danny and his positive spirit live on. From his obituary, I know that Danny impacted many lives and lived each day to its fullest. Carpe Diem! I hope, in time, that those memories bring a smile to your face and remind you how lucky you were to have had Danny in your lives. Rest in Peace Danny. And God bless your family.

  5. What a beautiful obituary for a life lost too soon. He sounds like an amazing person – thank you for sharing. My condolences to Danny’s family and friends.

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