DANVILLE — Christmas came in July this year for Don Jones, 60, of Danville. That month, he met his oldest daughter, Melissa Richards of Nashville, Tenn., for the first time in 42 years.
Jones admits he was nervous when he went to The Hangout in Danville for the meeting with the daughter who was 5 months old the last time he saw her.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but she came in and walked right up and gave me a big hug,” he said.
Since then, it’s been great, Jones said. They had a great weekend together in Danville and they have talked regularly and exchanged text messages and, naturally at this time of year, Christmas cards.
“She’s busy with her job so she couldn’t come up for Christmas this year, but I’m planning a trip there (to Nashville) in the spring,” he added.
Jones was living in Massachusetts when Melissa was born Feb. 14, 1969, and he and his first wife soon separated.
“The last I heard, she went to California with her mother,” Jones said.
He eventually left Massachusetts in 1980, moving to Millersburg, where he ran a coal business for a number of years. After another divorce and remarriage, he moved to Danville about 1990 or ’91, because his third wife was from there.
It was another daughter, Florence Milako of Connecticut, who tracked down Melissa and contacted her through the Internet. Florence was not on hand for the reunion, but his youngest daughter, Stacy Jones, and her baby were there, as was Jones’ last ex-wife, Susan Jones. She also met a half brother, Elmer, who came in from Wooster for the weekend.
However, Melissa hasn’t met all of her half siblings. Jones said she still hasn’t met three other boys and another daughter. Jones has 10 children, one of whom is deceased.