It is with immense sadness, that I sit down to write a few words about Don Jones and his beloved Brahma with the help of his friend and club president Bryan Meade. Don passed away in late June 2017 at the age of 83, in the company of his loving wife Betty and immediate family.
Don was a true visionary, and an exceptionally clever man. Not only was he a skilled builder and craftsman, his love of poultry led his creative talents to recreating bantam Brahma in Australia. Having started in the late 1970s he developed a wealth of knowledge on the Brahma breed and had a big influence on The Brahma Club of Australia (now The Brahma and Cochin Club of Australia).
Don was a founding member of The Brahma Club of Australia when it formed in July 2000 at Castle Hill Showgrounds. Along with Megg Miller, Don was our club Patron for many years and since 2013 the club has had an award for Best Bantam Dark Brahma named in his honour. Don actually won his own award at our annual national show several times.
His generosity with his knowledge, and willingness to help newcomers in Brahma get the best start possible with the breed has helped to firmly embed this culture in the club; which will no doubt be a long-lasting legacy. He was a somewhat stubborn man, that almost certainly must have frustrated his devoted and wonderful wife Betty from time to time. However, despite numerous setbacks along the way, it was surely this same tenacity that helped him persevere with the recreation of bantam Brahma, and make his endeavor so successful.
Not only was Don generous with his knowledge, but over his many years breeding Brahma, he would have freely given away hundreds of birds! On one occasion, we can remember Don giving his very best female Brahma (who had just won a major prize at our annual show) to a new breeder to help them get started. His passion for developing Brahma, as well as encouraging other breeders was well known. In fact, we can recall Don reminiscing about the delight he felt when other breeders beat him in shows, using birds he had given away, or with offspring from his own line. This is a relatively rare quality among poultry show people, with some breeders preferring to hold onto their own strains for fear of being beaten later.
My own introduction into bantam Dark Brahma was through birds given to me by Don. Since that day about 10 years ago, he continued to support my passion for the breed, offering knowledge and advice, and additional birds on a number of occasions. In fact, in 2016 I won Champion Bird of Show at our annual poultry show with a bantam Dark Brahma cockerel that was sired by a bird Don had given me in 2015. This bird was crossed with Bryan Meade’s (our Club President) bantam Dark Brahma which coincidentally had some of Don’s bantams in it’s make up from a couple of years prior. I still have one of the original hens Don gave me all those years ago.
Bryan recalls, “Don and I had many discussions regarding bantam type and how to go about correcting the head and wings on the bantam Brahma at our show, but mostly on the phone. Lucky for Betty I did not live next door. Don had also encouraged Cindy Pretty with her light Brahma and in later years he gave her some Darks. Don had a great sense of humour as I recall once I described the head of one of his bantam dark Brahma as having a head like a revolving mallee root. In a flash he replied back ‘Bryan don’t stand next to it, as I am sure no one will be able to tell the difference’. Don and Betty always had coffee and cake and made us all feel so very welcome, whether it was at the show in their caravan in the early days, or when we visited them at Wyong. Don was a truly great friend and set an excellent example for our club, helping people get started with breeding Brahma by donating birds and helping juniors in their breeding programs.”
Don’s loss will be felt for many years to come, and Bryan and I, along with many other club members will miss him dearly. Personally, I can't speak highly enough of Don, he has been an inspiration for me, and a mentor. Living in different states, it was always a thrill when I had a chance to catch up with Don and Betty, over a cup of tea or coffee, and some biscuits or cake. I will miss our chats and hearing his wonderful stories; even at 83 his memory was incredible. He was a truly remarkable man.