But when Hand, also 39, called to check on his friend at the hospital, he received a shock. Jones was on speaker phone with Hand when his doctor walked into the room and issued the diagnosis: covid-19.
“His exact words were: ‘Did you hear what he said?’ ” Hand recalled his friend saying. “I said, ‘Yeah, I heard him . . . I heard him.’ ”
On April 30, Jones died of complications related to the novel coronavirus. His friends and family remember him as a larger-than-life personality, a devoted new father and a lover of music.
Those closest to Jones knew him as Socks or Fat Socks, an endearing nickname from his youth when he took a local fashion statement a bit too far.
“Back in the day — it was the style in the D.C. metropolitan area — we used to wear slouch socks, but Darrell just went overboard with the style,” Hand said, laughing at the memory. “He would put two or three pairs of slouch socks on. His socks would look so thick and his shoes would look so tight on his feet, so he just got the name Fat Socks.”
Jones and Hand grew up together in Temple Hills, where Hand said his friend garnered a reputation for his honesty, good humor and calm demeanor. As boys, Jones had a natural ability to defuse small neighborhood disagreements and bridge gaps between different groups of friends.
After the two graduated from Potomac High School, Hand went to college in Georgia, but Jones stayed local. He took some trade school classes, but mainly worked odd jobs in the District doing security work. Of all his friends, Hand said he and Jones kept in touch most. It was hard not to, he said. Whenever Hand would come home from school for a break, Jones was one of the first people he would see, and they even looked for jobs together after Hand graduated, just like old times.
Hand landed a job at Miriam’s Kitchen, a homeless services organization in Foggy Bottom. A few years later, he took a job elsewhere, but he liked the environment and recommended Jones for a job there, too. That’s where he found his stride, Hand said. Jones started in 2007 and worked there as a security guard until his death.
Co-workers took to social media after Jones’s death, describing their beloved security guard as a constant, comforting presence.
He was a “kind, hilarious, and gentle person,” according to one post. Miriam’s Kitchen set up a GoFundMe account in Jones’s memory to help cover the funeral costs for his family. It had raised more than $16,000 as of Sunday.
Zo Mitchell, 39, another friend of Jones, said he had a deep passion for go-go music. He performed in suburban Maryland with a band called Raw Potential for several years and made a lasting mark within that community.
The outpouring of support from go-go music lovers and friends of Miriam’s Kitchen included testaments to the humble, respectful spirit that Mitchell said defined his friend.
“Everybody loved him wherever he went,” Mitchell said. “He was that kind of guy.”
Jones’s mother, Carolyn Cousar, buried her son on May 15. He left behind a 5-month-old son and a family shocked and still mourning, she said.
“Darrell was a very caring person,” she said. “He had a good heart. He was my baby.”