American Veteran 01


Jon Frederick Caswell

May 29, 1941 ~ April 18, 2019 (age 77)

Jon Frederick Caswell, age 77, passed away peacefully at home on April 18, 2019 surrounded by his loving and devoted family after a long, hard-fought and courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.  Jon was born on May 29, 1941, in Ionia, Michigan, the son of Denard O. and Mathilda C. “Mattie” (Krellwitz) Caswell.

A lifelong resident of the Ionia area, Jon attended S.S. Peter and Paul Academy. After graduating in 1959, he continued his studies at Central Michigan University, where he was a member of the Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity. Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from CMU in 1964, he joined the Great Lakes Naval Academy and served in the United States Coast Guard and the Coast Guard Reserves for 8 years. On July 2, 1966, he married the love of his life, Elaine Marie Stephan and together raised their family in Ionia.

After first working at the Ionia Unemployment Office, Jon then joined his father at Caswell & Company Ford dealership in 1966 selling cars. He learned early on from his father what makes a successful businessman: conscientious work ethic, treating customers fairly and treating employees like family. Caswell & Company started out as a gas station in 1936. Later, it expanded to become an automobile dealership in 1949, and finally included recreational vehicles. In 2002 the dealership was sold, but Caswell RV continues.

Jon was a firm believer in being involved and giving back to his community. He was an 11-year member of the Ionia Jaycees, a two-term member on the Board of Director for the Ionia Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Ionia Area United Way for 45 years, a member of the Knights of Columbus for 40 years, a 30-year member of Rotary Club, a member of the Y.M.C.A. Board for 6 years, a 14-year member of both the Michigan Auto Dealers Association Board and the Michigan Association of Recreational Vehicles and Campground, a two-year member of the Michigan Association of Recreational Vehicles Executive Board, and a member of the  Ionia Community Library Board for 10 years.

As a lifelong member of S.S. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, Jon was a lector, Eucharistic minister, served on the Parish Council for 9 years and the Parish Finance Council for 8 years. Volunteer positions he held and recognition he earned from working with the public schools include: Ionia Public Schools Co-Chair, Citizens Study Committee on Communication, Chair for the Successful Millage Campaign Renewal in 1988, recipient of the Ionia Public Schools Silver Slate Award, and the President of the Ionia Public Schools Basketball Rebounders Club.

Although his service to the business and local community is extensive, his generous and often anonymous acts of kindness toward others during his lifetime most accurately reflect the caring and humble person he was.

A voracious reader, avid sports fan, travel enthusiast, music lover and history buff with a fantastic memory, Jon had a special knack for being able to talk with almost anyone on almost any given topic. He always had a friendly smile, a relatable story, a joke and an affectionate nickname for all he knew.

As an avid sports fan, Jon especially enjoyed participating in baseball and basketball in his youth as well as watching and reading about all sports throughout his life. One of his greatest joys was watching his children, and in later years, his grandchildren participate in their various sports and activities.

Jon is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Elaine M. (Stephan) Caswell; his daughter, Lisa M. (Chad) Cole of Saline; his two sons, Christopher Jon (Rona) Caswell of East Grand Rapids and Stephen M. (Jennifer Kile) Caswell of South Lake Tahoe, California.  He is also survived by his six grandchildren who were the delight of his life: Luke, Drew and Zach Caswell of East Grand Rapids, Maddie and Jake Cole of Saline, and Lillian Caswell of South Lake Tahoe; his brother, James (Joy) Caswell of Rancho Palos Verdes, California; nephews, Ross and Evan Levy; sister-in-law, Shanna Ellsworth; and niece, Sally Jo (Stephan) Ledvina along with many cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents and nephew, Leland James Caswell.

The “Golden Rule” of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, was Jon’s deep-rooted philosophy.  He will be remembered as a man of integrity, honesty, tradition and loyalty who showed kindness, humility, compassion and fairness toward others.  His deep faith, love of family and many long-term friendships fostered over his lifetime were precious gifts he cherished.

The Funeral Mass for Jon will be held at S.S. Peter & Paul Catholic Church, 434 High Street, Ionia, Michigan at 11:00 a.m., Thursday, April 25, 2019. Rite of Committal will be in Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery. The family will receive friends at Lehman Funeral Home, 220 Rich Street, Ionia, Michigan on Wednesday, April 24, 2019 from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. The rosary will be prayed at 7:00 p.m.

In lieu of flowers it was Jon’s wish that donations be made in his memory to S.S. Peter & Paul Athletic Fund, S.S. Peter & Paul School General Fund or to the Ionia Community Library.



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