Dusty Shane Jones – RIP 1972 – 2020

Dusty Jones found peace and relief from his battle with cancer on Monday morning March 23rd 2020 at the age of 47 years, 6 months, and 7 days. His last moments were spent with his family at home. Dusty’s spirit will always be with his wife of 19 years, Brianna Jones, two beautiful daughters Hailey 17, and Katie 13, two dogs Owen and Lucy, Bailey the cat and many family, friends and business associates. He will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered.

Dusty was born July 17, 1972 in Paris, Texas where he grew up riding dirt bikes. He spent his teenage years in Abilene, attended Cooper High School, and it was there his interest in computers intensified. After high school he attended Texas State University where he pursued a major in mathematics.  He subsequently transferred to the University of Texas at Austin to receive his BS in Mechanical Engineering.

Out of school, Dusty began his professional career at Lockheed Martin in Ft. Worth where he stress tested components for military fighter planes. Ultimately missing Austin, he returned there to work for over a decade as a process engineer at Motorola and as a software developer at Motorola’s spin-out division, Freescale Semiconductor. After much coaxing from his longtime friend Frederick Mendler, Dusty then took his coding development skills to join Frederick at Rackspace Hosting, a then fast-growing technology concern based in San Antonio, Texas.  After four years at Rackspace, Dusty joined a Denver-based software startup called TeamSnap. As one of the first handful of employees, Dusty wrote much of the original code that launched the now successful company. As a work-from-home employee, Dusty began attending classes at UT in pursuit of a graduate degree.

In mid-2012, Dusty graduated from UT with a MS in Technology Commercialization. Armed with new learnings and his well-honed developer skills, he set out into entrepreneurship and joined friends Frederick Mendler and Marcus Robertson at TrueAbility, a company that has changed the way technical skills are assessed around the world. As Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Dusty designed the architecture for the global platform.   

Dusty married Brianna Burke on March 17, 2001 in Austin, Texas where they lived until moving to Kyle, Texas. One wouldn’t have guessed from looking at Dusty that he was a romantic at heart. He always sent Brianna flowers for special occasions. Just a week before he passed, while holding her hand and looking at the wedding ring he said” I truly got my money’s worth out of that purchase”

Dusty had a passion for many things and was naturally curious. He was a voracious reader and a life-long, insatiable learner. His interests included photography, antique cameras, electronics, machines, travel, and of course UT football. He knew a lot about many topics and was always the “go-to” person for family and friends.  He even developed an affinity for tractors while helping Brianna’s Papaw take care of the “poor farm”, learning how to operate and maintain it. Give him a manual and nothing was impossible to accomplish.

All of this was secondary to his passion and commitment to be a father for Hailey and Katie. On Hailey’s 16th birthday that meant weeks of research to determine the safest car to buy for a teenage driver. For Katie’s 13th birthday, he loaded the car with her and her friends and drove them around Austin taking pictures of all the murals. During the past 15 months this passion to have “just one more day” to be a father kept him going to try and finish a job that he knew was never really finished. The love, and lessons he shared with them and the memories of the joyful and fun times they had will be the light that will outshine the darkness in their hearts today.

Through the love and generosity of many, especially Brianna’s father Bill, Dusty was able to travel and see many of the places he had always wanted, Mt. Rushmore, Museum of Wooden Boats in Maine, Aerospace Museum in Washington DC, the Atlantic Ocean, and many others. Dusty was able to make one last trip to spend some time with his grandparents Gene and Ruth Cass who held a very special place in Dusty’s heart. Dusty lived as much life as time would give him.

Dusty is survived by his wife Brianna, daughters Hailey and Katie, mother Sandra and father Roger Jones of Paris, Texas, his sister Shannon and nephew Zachary Tenner and niece Autumn Garner and a brother Ja, wife Karen Jones and nephew Mason. Larry and Cindy Cass, Grandparents Gene Cass and Ruth Cass.

The family thanks all of you for the tremendous love, support, prayers and acts of pure kindness bestowed on them during this difficult time. A special thank you to Dr. George whose care, counseling, listening, and kindness was so appreciated. Thank you to Karen Thomas for her frequent visits to see Dusty. Nicole Salomon and the entire staff at Texas Oncology for their tireless efforts. Warren and Tina Hughes for their constant daily friendship and support. A very special thank you to Dr. Diane Brinkman for the love and support she provided to Hailey, Katie and Brianna. Thank you to Frederick and Marcus for their amazing support and understanding to enable Dusty to continue to be a productive member of the team while fighting strongly. Finally, our family would not have been able to make it through this past 15 months without the unending love and support from Sanna Conoley, Dusty’s mother-in-law, and her partner Elizabeth Clarke. 

Due to COVID-19 there will be an online, virtual memorial service for friends and family. If allowed at the time, the family will have a special memorial service, near his birthday in July, for all to gather and share memories of the good times and toast a husband, father, son, grandson, brother, friend, and colleague. At his request Dusty’s ashes will be spread in the Atlantic Ocean in a private ceremony.

May we all have “one more day” and spend it so well.

Day One of Tech Stars Cloud

Day one was a day of orientation and introductions. What better way to introduce your company than with an elevator pitch. This year’s pit represents a packed house. There are 12 teams and over 40 founders; making for cramped quarters. We are still in that awkward phase where each team is getting to know the building and the other teams. I hope that we get to know the other team members and their roles more fully in the next couple of days. There are some bright and talented teams and individuals here. We can’t miss this opportunity to to learn from them.

Elevator pitches at this point of the program where quite rough. I know the desired outcome of the pitch, or the “billboard” that MSTC professor John Daly prefers. Some teams had paragraph long product summaries, while others used one sentence promises of being the best solution to any data problem. Ours has some rough edges. An immediate question is who exactly is a tech? In a week or less these will be so well rehearsed that the issues encountered today will be no where to be found.

Tech Stars is mentor driven and tomorrow marks the first round of mentor meetings. We spent a brief amount of time after the dinner presentation going over our goals for Tech Stars and establishing some guidelines and questions to help pick the best mentors for our team.