Ten Minutes with Doug Jones
Photo by Stan Godlewski
Doug Jones was born in Waterbury and grew up in East Orange, New Jersey. After graduating from high school in 1942, he went on to get his civil engineering degree from New York University. Jones didn’t know much about Wilton, but after finding an affordable house on a nice piece of land, he and his wife Betty, an opera singer, moved to Wilton 63 years ago as newlyweds to raise their family, Jeff (now a Grammy-award-winning record producer) and Janet, a commodities trader.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
I wanted to be an actor and singer. I eventually did become a part-time actor before getting married, and appeared in several off-Broadway shows.
When inspired you to pursue engineering?
I grew up during the Great Depression. Everybody was out of work including my own father. An engineer friend of my father’s told me that civil engineers always had a job during the Depression. It was then that I decided I wanted to be a civil engineer.
Why the transportation field?
During World War II, I served as an officer in the transportation corps and decided this was the field I liked best.
What are some of the larger projects you worked on?
The Personal Rapid Transit System in Morgantown, West Virginia, the Southwest Corridor Transit Project in Boston, the Lindenwold Transit Line in Philadelphia, and a new road system in Liberia, West Africa.
What was your favorite engineering project and why?
The Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit System. This was the very first “people mover” system ever built and today is still operating as originally conceived in 1970.
You are very fit. Has fitness always been a priority?
Not really. In my younger days, I was an avid tennis player and would play two sets several mornings a week. Today Betty and I participate in the Silver Sneakers exercise program at the Wilton Y. I also walk at least a mile every day.
You have received many professional accolades and have served on the boards of many august institutions. At 92 you are more mentally sharp than I am on my best day. How do you do it?
I keep my mind active by reading. Sometimes I read two or three books a week. I also read several newspapers every day at our wonderful Wilton Library.
What do you love most about living here?
The people and the small town atmosphere. If we hadn’t moved to Wilton, Betty would never have had the opportunity to have a career in opera. A good friend once asked me; “If you could live anyplace, where would it be?” I immediately answered, “Wilton, Connecticut.”
Tell us something most people wouldn’t know about you?
served as Ted Kennedy’s expert witness during the “Bridge at Chappaquiddick” inquest in 1969.
When are you happiest?
That’s easy—listening to opera.
What is your personal motto?
Don’t ever worry about anything you have no control over.