Updated 3:20 p.m.
It’s no surprise that Landen Manning Jones would have stopped to help a stranger in need, his partner said, but he never sought attention for his good deeds.
“He would do things for people just because he was a giver, but he wouldn’t even talk about it. He never wanted anything in return,” said Shua Potter, Jones’ partner of six years. “I feel like if he would have survived, he would have come home and told me what happened, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he just kind of let it go.”
On Saturday, Jones, 39, stopped along the Parkway to help Jason Hubert Jackson, 34, with his disabled car. A third vehicle hit Jones’ car, and the men were struck by the passing vehicle or jumped to get out of its path, sending them over the railing onto Second Avenue below, where a vehicle hit them, the Associated Press reported. Both men died.
While a police investigation continues, friends and family members are remembering the lives of the men and their contributions to Pittsburgh.
After growing up in California and Colorado, Jones headed to New York City to pursue theater and then moved into the fitness industry as a personal trainer and nutrition coach.
At Mark Fisher Fitness in Manhattan, he met Potter, who was getting in shape for an upcoming summer on Fire Island. They talked for a few minutes before a class, then Potter left his business card in Jones’ locker with the note, “Can I buy you a glittery cocktail?” They set up a date — and, fast forward a few years, they lived in a historic home in Manchester with their mini dachshund Brody.
Jones was in the process of changing careers, shifting from his role as a trainer at Silverio-Hoffman Fitness to a new job in real estate. He passed his real estate exam last week and was passionate about the trade and architecture, always dreaming of restoring old buildings to their “former glory,” Potter remembered.
Jones was the kind of person who ran late because he was busy learning about something, reading something or walking through a park, Potter said.
“If there was a plaque anywhere, he’d stop to read it,” he said. “He taught me to see the beauty and to focus on that. He always took extra time to look up and look at the beauty.”
Jones loved glamour, museums, the Omni William Penn Hotel, Tiffany & Co., cruise ships, sunshine, champagne, good coffee, disco music, and history, Potter said, describing him as “pure joy,” “pure love,” and “positive light.”
“I call him my Auntie Mame, because he taught me to look up,” Potter said, quoting from the popular play and movie. “‘Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death. Live, live, live.’ ‘Life is short,’ he’d say. ‘Do it now.'”
On Saturday, Jones saw a disabled vehicle and took Jackson to get gas, but the car still wouldn’t start. They were going to call AAA when the third car hit, per the Associated Press. A woman and child in the disabled vehicle were not injured.
Jackson was a “gentle giant” with a passion for football, Eric Neavins told the Post-Gazette. Neavins was a counselor at Harborcreek Youth Services in Erie, which Jackson attended as a teenager.
“He was a troubled youth who played football and tried to use football as a way to get out of that troubled environment that he was brought up in,” Neavins told the newspaper. “Now that he’s older and has kids coming through, he was trying to get his life right.”
A GoFundMe for Jackson, known as “Big Hus,” described him as a father of four who was “funny, always full of energy, and he loved his children.”
Jackson, of Wilkinsburg, was also a member of The Burgh Boyz, an online radio show, where he talked about Pittsburgh’s rap and hip-hop scenes. The Burgh Boyz couldn’t be reached for comment.
A tribute was planned for Tuesday night on The Burgh Boyz show, and the radio program offered condolences to Jones’ family, as well.
Funeral arrangements haven’t been announced for Jackson.
Jones will be cremated, his ashes placed in a Tiffany box and eventually spread in Santa Barbara, where his grandmother was laid to rest. A GoFundMe has been established to help with those costs.
Celebrations of life will be held in Pittsburgh, Colorado, California, and New York. Potter is considering hosting a memorial dance party in Pittsburgh for charity, possibly related to a historic preservation cause.