Michigan Dealer Jon Caswell Dies at 77

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

Caswell & Co. started out as a gas station in 1936. Later, it expanded to become an automobile dealership in 1949, and finally included RVs. In 2002, the dealership was sold, but Caswell RV continues.

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. Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in business administration from CMU in 1964, he joined the Great Lakes Naval Academy and served in the U.S. 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 & Co. 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 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 RV and Campground, a two-year member of the Michigan Association of RV Executive Board, and a member of the  Ionia Community Library Board for 10 years.

Caswell is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Elaine Caswell; his daughter, two sons, six grandchildren, and his brother, James. 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 Caswell’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, Mich., at 11:00 a.m., Thursday, April 25. Rite of committal will be in Mt. Olivet Catholic Cemetery. The family will receive friends at Lehman Funeral Home, 220 Rich Street, Ionia, Mich., from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24. The rosary will be prayed at 7 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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