Don Jones is a member of the Trinity class of 1973 and was inducted into the Trinity High School Hall of Fame in 2007. He started his retail fashion career at Fischer’s Men’s Shoes on Jefferson Street in Louisville in June of 1969. For over 50 years, Don advanced through the organizational ranks of retailers such as Macy’s, Marshall Fields, IKEA, GAP and Target. In 2009 he founded Verite Capital Partners and The Jones Family Office to focus on assisting minorities, women and people of color in business in gaining access to capital. Don serves on the Board of Trustees at Felician University and several other public and private companies. He was a recipient of the Louisville Catholic Education Foundation’s “Salute to Catholic School Alumni Award” in 2009.
I dedicate this article to my mother, Margaret H. Mudd, who had the vision to send me and my brother Paul, Class of 1968, to Trinity. Through her desire, determination and direction, I was able to attend Trinity.
As my classmates and I were finishing the 8th grade, they had questions about where they would be attending high school. For me, the decision had been made for quite some time; it would be Trinity. Over the summer of 1969 as we all made our way through the cultural difficulties, I was anticipating attending Trinity with excitement. Because I had already experienced riding a school bus and changing schools, attending St. Peter Claver, Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI, I was ready to catch the two city buses necessary to bring me from my Sheppard Square housing project in Smoketown to Trinity in St. Matthews. Unlike my friends in the neighborhood, I had already attended racially integrated schools. However, when I arrived at Trinity, I was the only black student in my freshman class, though other black students enrolled in my grade over the next couple of years. By graduation day, the Class of 1973 included three black graduates.
I came to Trinity that fall to make my mark. I had to represent my community in the most positive way. From the very beginning, I saw it as an opportunity to advance and create a better life for myself. I received a wonderful education at Trinity. As a matter of fact, it was the best education I ever received because I never attended college. But for me it was not only the great teachers that taught and guided me, Sr. Jane, Mr. Schultz, Fr. Caster, Coach Kennedy, Coach Moore, Coach Sullivan, Mr. Rostel and many others, it was the entire Trinity village, the people who helped me assimilate and learn a different way to live, think and grow. It was Jack Hodes who helped me through my freshman year. It was Coach Joe Rogers who drove me home from every practice and game my sophomore year during the basketball season, and Gary Stich who did the same my junior and senior years with Coach Joe Thompson picking up the slack. It was all the friends’ families that fed me, the Siegels, Thienemans, Perkins and especially Doug Wilson’s family. It was the deep conversations with Father Jansing over the summers as I cleaned the Trinity school buildings to help pay my tuition. These were what formed me, shaped me into the man I am today.
One of the most profound and important contributions to my life is when Trinity gave me Paul Dugan Mershon. Living the life of understanding, compassion and tolerance that his parents, Dot and Ollie, had taught him, he made it his business to see me through my time at Trinity. I lived with the Mershon family my junior and senior years and again after I dropped out of college. (There are many great stories within this story.) I will forever be grateful for the path they help me create.
As I discussed Trinity with my mother over the years, I can still hear her say, “Father Duerr and Trinity delivered on their promise to me: that you would leave the school a man of faith and character.”
I am often asked, “What does Trinity mean to you? How has the school impacted your life?” I cannot express in words the answers to those questions. I answer them in the way I live my life, care for my neighbor and love our Lord Jesus Christ.