Jonathan “Jon” Lee Vessey passed away at age 69, on March 13, 2021 in Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach, Florida surrounded by family members. Jon was born on December 5, 1951 in John Burns Hospital Belle Fourche, South Dakota to Reverend Robert G and Helen L (McConnell) Vessey. He came into this world in an unusual way. Jon was born with a neural tube defect known as spina bifida. The prognosis in those days was not good. At six months old he was taken to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota for surgery to repair the opening on his spine. He survived and overcame a multitude of challenges. He attended elementary school in Sioux Falls, SD., junior high and three years of high school in Huron, SD. His courage, positivity, and drive to succeed enabled him to graduate from Mitchell High School (SD), and Dakota Wesleyan University. He earned a Master’s Degree in Mass Communications from the University of North Dakota.
After graduate school he taught English in North Dakota for one year, coached debate and taught English at Yankton (SD) High school for one year. He moved to Fort Dodge, Iowa and taught high school English from 1978 until 2016. His passion for music and mass communications led him to initiate a radio club where his students produced a Sunday evening broadcast. He later started a video technology class. He was often enlisted to tape athletic contests, graduations, and other Fort Dodge community events. He operated a part time business called Personal Memories Video specializing in wedding videos.
At the age of sixty, health issues forced him to retire from teaching. He remained active in Civitan and Junior Civitan and the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance, working to enhance business, education, community growth, a successful employment climate, and industry in Fort Dodge. He spent many summer days at the Market on Central and at Frontier Days.
Jon was a committed Democrat and belonged to a group of like- minded politicos affectionately known as The Tribe. His training as a debater, his love of lively conversation, and especially for our country and its diverse people drove him to be an informed and active citizen.
Jon enjoyed golf and cheering for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes, He was an avid reader with an impressive personal library. His favorite author: John Grisham.
He spent five winters in Florida, staying with his cousin Betsy McKay a gifted nurse who cared and advocated for Jon’s health concerns. She encouraged him to buy a twin home in Ormond Beach, Florida. In October of 2019 he left his home and beloved friends in Fort Dodge for the sunshine state. He enjoyed going to the beach and eating at the many great seafood restaurants in the Ormond and Daytona Beach area. The pandemic of 2020 kept him from traveling and enjoying the friends and family he left in Iowa and South Dakota. He wanted them to know he loved them all and wishes them well. He gave instructions to not mourn his death, but to celebrate his life. Please rejoice, with his family, in the promise of God’s grace for an eternal home, free from pain and physical limitations.
Grateful for his inspirational life are his sister, Mary (Lynn) Frederick of Sioux Falls SD, brother David Vessey of Brookings S.D., nephews Luke (Kate) Frederick of Sioux Falls, and Ty Frederick of Sioux Falls, great nephew Ryder Frederick and great niece Roxy Frederick, Aunt Ruth McConnell of CA, cousin Betsy McKay, FL, cousin Bill (Linda) McKay of RI, cousin Jackie (Marc) Kline of MI, cousin Russell Randall of CA, and several second cousins and many faithful friends
He was preceded in death by his parents, Aunt and Uncle Dorothy and Bill McKay, Aunt Betty McConnell, Aunt and Uncle Randy and Sue Randall, Uncle Tom McConnell.
If you care to honor Jon, consider a contribution to Dakota Wesleyan University, 1200 W University Ave., Mitchell, SD 57301: or the Fort Dodge Iowa Junior Civitan Club 819 N. 25th Street, Fort Dodge Iowa 50501. Any cards or messages for the family, please contact Baldwin Brothers, 1185 W. Granada Blvd. #11, Ormond Beach, FL 32174, 386-947-7273.