Petersburg Pilot -


Jonathan C. Ness, 61


Jonathan Carl Ness, 61, passed away on June 8, 2012 in Petersburg, Alaska.

He was born on August 15, 1950 in Petersburg, Alaska to Leo and Ruth Ness. Jon was the second son and younger brother to Steve. He was considered a miracle baby, being born with a congenital heart defect. Mom, Dad, Steve, and numerous friends had to help carry him up the stairs at school, as he was too weak to do so himself.

Jon had two heart surgeries as a child. Doctors at Virginia Mason in Seattle performed a very new and radical procedure on him at age 11. The operation was a success and Jon had a new zest for life. He could now do the normal things other kids took for granted.

Jon had an affinity for all Seattle sports, especially the Mariners and Huskies. He could name any Husky, Sonic, or Mariner past or present. This all began with his older brother. Every night before bed, Steve would quiz him on baseball players and their statistics. If he answered wrong, Steve would “gently” crack his toes. The sports love affair was literally cracked into him.

Steve was a major inspiration to Jon as a kid. Jon wanted nothing more than to be on the high school basketball team. The squad knew how much Jon loved basketball and decided that if could not be on the team, he could be their manager and served as such throughout school.

In 1968, Jon was awarded the Clifford Mark Fosse award at his graduation from Petersburg High School. He chose to attend New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M. Through the years of 1968-1972 the era of Eric Ness, his cousin, and Jon were created. The duo became legendary and from Northern Alaska, to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, someone, somewhere has a story of Eric and Jon.

Jon paid for college by either seine fishing with his Dad on the Libby No. 8 or working at PFI. It was during one such herring season that Jon accidentally dumped the fish onto a young lady by the name of Jeanette Fernandez. Being a fisherman at heart, seeing that woman covered in herring slime, was all too much. It was instant love for Jon. Jeanette fell for Jon as quickly but has never cared for herring since. October 8, 2012 would have marked the couple’s 35th wedding anniversary.

Jon started to work for the United States Postal Service in 1976. He loved to greet and talk with everyone. A great place to do that was the Post Office.

In 1982 Jon became the Petersburg Post Master and soon joined NAPUS (National Association Post Master of United States). These conferences were drab and vaguely attended. All that changed after Jon became a regular attendee. It was not long until Jon was known throughout the country. He was easy to talk to, remembered everything (see sports statistics above), and became friends with everyone.

Jon achieved the title as Vice President for the states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. He also served as the Representative for the state and for the Alaska Post Masters Committee. If there was a problem anywhere in the state, Jon was the person to call to get it resolved. He enjoyed showing the ropes to the new people and was always helping fellow Post Masters in Alaska.

Becoming a father was one of Jon’s greatest joys. He was the model dad to his two sons Stewart and Christopher and daughter Gabrielle. One of his favorite things to do was to read to the kids. From the kids’ births, he was there for everything; the recitals, plays, illnesses, highs and lows. The teen years were difficult, as with all teens at that age. From the kids knowing everything to the stupid mistakes, all self inflicted, Jon was there. As they grew into young adults they realized that he was not talking just to hear himself out loud. The kids knew Jon was giving them good advice and they expressed to him that he did indeed know more about life than they thought. In February 2011, Jon and Jeanette were blessed with the birth of their first grandchild, Charlee Antoinette.

He would often fly to Seattle and attend some games with the boys. It was the trips abroad with Jeanette that were extremely special, like their visit as pilgrims with World Youth Day events for Catholic Youth. They visited Poland, Germany, France, and Spain. There were plans to travel to the Philippines and to the Holy Land upon Jeanette’s retirement.

He has served on the Hospital Board and was the current President of the Parish Council at St. Catherine’s. He loved the Rotary Club of which he joined in 1992 and was their President from 1997-1998. The annual salmon bake was a favorite time for him. Every year, he was up before the sun and was ready to start the fire at Sandy Beach.

Jon was an avid reader, often consuming two or three books at the same time. Historical books along with Clive Cussler and David Baldacci were among his favorites. Although he possessed a Kindle, he preferred holding an actual book in his hands.

Jon retired from the Post Office in 2009. Much of his time was spent caring for his father Leo until his passing in July, 2011. During a trip to Spain last August, he realized how compromised his health was becoming. His health steadily declined and left him without much energy. It was frustrating that he could not do what he loved.

His parents, Leo and Ruth, and his brother Steve preceded Jon in death.

He is survived by his wife Jeanette, his sons Stewart and Christopher of Seattle, daughter Gabrielle (Pavich) of El Paso, Texas and granddaughter Charlee.

A service was held at St. Catherine’s Parish Hall officiated by Father Thomas Weise on June 14.

Jon is interred at Petersburg Memorial Cemetery.


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