WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – A typical memorial service isn’t filled with people wearing soccer jerseys or Liverpool Football Club scarves. Michael Jones, however, was anything but typical to the people whose lives he touched during his 25 years.
“He was always smiling, laughing and joking,” said John Birchall, a close friend of Jones. “Just such a fun guy to be around all the time.”
A somber service was held at First Baptist Church in White Plains Tuesday to remember the 25-year old Harrison resident who was murdered in New York City early Sunday morning. Jones, who was originally from Liverpool, England, was a former coach with The New York Red Bulls Youth Training Program and the Armonk United Soccer Team. He was remembered by hundreds of friends and loved ones, including the parents and children who he coached over the years. Many in attendance wore Red Bulls jerseys with Jones' nickname “Jonesy” on the back.
Cathryn Kaehr, a mother whose son was coached by Jones on the Armonk club team, remembered the effect Jones had on the children he coached.
“I remember talking with him sometimes just before games and he would look at his watch and then run away and say ‘I only have a few more minutes to change their lives’,” Kaehr said. “That was his goal.”
Kaehr said Jones was more than just a coach to her family, as he would frequently come over to watch his beloved Liverpool team's games with her husband, who is a fan of rival Chelsea.
Police said they have not determined a motive in Jones’ murder. Orlando Orea, a suspect named by the New York City Police Department, fled the country to Mexico Tuesday before he could be apprehended by authorities, several published reports said.
Birchall, still in shock from the news of losing his friend, spoke of the importance of not taking life for granted.
“Your loved ones, even if you’re having a fight or something, it’s so important to tell them how much they mean to you,” Birchall said.
Kaehr said Jones’ legacy will continue.
“I know every time my son takes the soccer field now, he’ll have a special angel watching over him,” she said.