This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.
Paul Jones and Alexandra Saland used to work together on Long Island’s East End — he was a real estate agent and she photographed his listings. In 2016, a few years after she had left that job, she came across him on an online dating site. “Hi,” she said. He asked her out.
Within a year, they were living together in the hamlet of Water Mill in Southampton. And by 2018 Mr. Jones was down on one knee, in front of family and friends, asking Ms. Saland to marry him. Soon they were having a baby, and they put off the wedding. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“We didn’t want to get married on iPads or Zoom, so we postponed the wedding indefinitely,” Ms. Saland said in a phone interview.
Mr. Jones came down with the novel coronavirus in the fall and was hospitalized in October. But like other “Covid long-haulers,” as they came to be known, he never fully recovered. He ended up in an emergency room on Feb. 8 with shortness of breath. Then he was transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital for a heart procedure; the virus had damaged his heart. Soon he went into cardiac arrest and was put on life support.
He died on Feb. 26 at 40. Ms. Saland said the cause was a combination of Covid-19 and pneumonia.
Mr. Jones seemed to make friends with nearly everyone he met in the Hamptons, better known as the summer playground of wealthy Manhattanites but also home to a community of local families, many of whom have lived there for generations.
“He was a magnet,” his mother, the Rev. Connie Jones, associate minister of Calvary Baptist Church in East Hampton, said in an interview. “He had a glow on him, and everybody felt it.”
He was a man of multiple pursuits. In addition to selling real estate, Mr. Jones tended bar and managed property. Last year, he and a friend started a remediation company franchise that cleans and disinfects properties.
He was a bouncer for a decade at the Stephen Talkhouse, a popular music spot in nearby Amagansett. And at 6-foot-4 with a bushy black beard, he looked the part.
“He was the perfect combo of teddy bear and scary bouncer when he needed to be,” the musician Nancy Atlas wrote in a letter to fellow musicians, as reported in The East Hampton Star. “Lord knows he kept us covered from rogue, long-nailed, drunk harpies and wanton men.”
He also enjoyed D.J.ing and becoming the entertainment himself. “Sometimes he’d just grab the mic and start singing,” his mother said.
Mr. Jones loved fishing and hunting and cooking big dinners, including pig roasts. He appeared on “Real Talk in the Kitchen,” which aired on LTV, a public access channel in East Hampton, where he shared his technique for making meat rubs.
He coached football and baseball and played rugby at the Montauk Rugby Club. He built furniture. He was a welder. “He’d pick up a lot of old pieces and say, ‘This would make a nice lamp,’” his mother said.
Paul Craig Jones III was born in Southampton on June 30, 1980. His father, Paul C. Jones II, was the town’s first African-American police officer. His mother was also a nurse.
Like many in his extended family, Paulie, as he was called, went to East Hampton High School. He played football, ran track and graduated in 1998. On the recommendation of a high school teacher, he applied for and won a music scholarship to Five Towns College, in Dix Hills on Long Island, where he studied violin for a time.
One thing that brought him and Ms. Saland together was that they were both single parents. (Ms. Saland’s husband died in 2012.) Their two families blended easily: Mr. Jones with his son, Paul Jones IV, called Jonesie, who is 13, and Ms. Saland with her daughter, Tatyana, 8. Their son, Asher Alexander Jones, will be 2 in May.
He is also survived by his sister, Kim Jones, and two brothers, Paul Anthony Jones and Joseph Kennedy Smith.
Mr. Jones’s many talents included jewelry design. He fashioned a pair of earrings for Ms. Saland. And he had sketched the diamond and ruby engagement ring that she now wears.