he Honorable Jay Wesley Sexton, aged 74, took his last breath on Saturday, August 20, 2016 at The Villages Hospice House surrounded by his family after a courageous, nearly 3-year battle with lung cancer. Born in Muskegon, MI, on June 18, 1942, he was the son of Lawrence Gilbert and Elizabeth Agnes Phillipson Sexton of St. Johns, MI. He resided in Lansing, MI for more than 50 years before moving to the Village of Gilchrist in 2014. He was a kind and honorable man who will be greatly missed by friends and family.
Judge Sexton, a member of the Michigan Bar Association, practiced administrative law for 36 years in the Michigan Department of Social Services. His focus was disability and expungement cases and later decided unemployment cases. He graduated from Albion College, Albion, MI in 1964 with an AB in business and economics. In 1966 he earned a master’s in business from the University of Michigan and, in 1969 a JD from Indiana University with a specialty in labor law. After graduation Judge Sexton practiced in the courts for nine years, as clerk for the Michigan Employment Relations Commission, staff attorney for the Kent County Legal Aid Society, and partner in private practice before joining the state.
His youth was spent in St. Johns, MI and his summers at Camp Miniwanca where he was a camper for 5 years and eventually a counselor and sailing instructor. Later he served on the Advisory Board of the American Youth Foundation. He pursued his sailing interest and discovered woodworking building several wooden sail boats at Lansing Community College. Judge Sexton also explored academia teaching business law at Grand Valley State University and as an adjunct professor at the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine. In 2013 he completed a two-year appointment on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and more recently served on the Alumni Board of Albion College, MI where he established a scholarship in honor of his grandfather and namesake, Jay W. Sexton (Albion class of 1901), who was superintendent of Lansing Public Schools from 1916 until 1943 and for whom Jay W. Sexton High School was named.
In 2006, he renovated his 1860 Sexton farm house in Laingsburg, MI where he lived with his life partner, Jody Wren. Together they enjoyed much including yoga, cycling, tennis, sailing, and traveling where ever the wind took them. He is survived by his daughter, Andrea Clare now living at the Sexton homestead, her mother, Lora Bruder (Jon Kasuk) of Williamston, MI, one step daughter, Emily Pults Sanders (Andrew) Steczo of Atlanta, GA and one step son Brian Penner Sanders of Portland, OR, two sisters, Carolyn Ann (Larry) Aldrich of Phoenix, AZ and Mary Elizabeth Barnette of Traverse City, MI, one nephew, Aaron (Heather) Aldrich of Denver, CO and one niece, Lacey Aldrich (Ben) McIvor of Phoenix, AZ, one grandson, Andrew Wesley Steczo and three great-nephews, Caleb Aldrich, and Brock and Lincoln McIvor.
Interment will be at Reed Cemetery, Victor Township, MI at a future date. In lieu of flowers, contributions in his name, may be made to the American Cancer Association or Hospice House of The Villages. Online condolences may be left at www.BaldwinCremation.com