Retired Chicago Tribune science and technology reporter Jon Van, a former Oak Parker, died of Parkinson’s Disease at his daughter Lisa Pasquesi’s home in Elmwood Park on July 10, 2019. He was 75.
Van was recruited by the Tribune in the fall of 1973, following a five-year stint as a city and county government reporter at the Des Moines Resister.
At the Tribune, he covered science and medicine for many years, reporting on space launches, the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption, experiments and discoveries at Fermilab and medical breakthroughs. He was a frequent contributor to “Column One,” a front-page feature. For several years, he wrote a week humor column for the paper’s Little Trib. He retired in 1998 as the Tribune business section’s technology writer.
Van was a dogged reporter and a gifted writer who could explain for the lay reader the complexities of scientific and technological discoveries and issues. He had an insatiable curiosity about how stuff works.
Prior to joining the Register staff, he had been the paper’s Iowa City stringer, covering student unrest in the mid-1960s at the University of Iowa, from which he graduated in 1966. He was the well-known and respected editor of the Daily Iowan student newspaper. He was a Sigma Chi and a member of the national leadership honor society, Omicron Delta Kappa. In 1968, he earned a graduate degree in political science.
An avid cyclist, Van commuted from Oak Park to the Tribune for many years – winter and summer, racking up thousands of city street miles on his bicycle. He and his cycling pals Monroe Sullivan and James O’Shea took annual bike trips in the U.S. and Europe. He was a longtime member of the League of American Wheelmen. Van was known for his quick wit and abt observations. He loved beer and jazz.
Born in Des Moines in 1943, Van was the only child of Karl and Charlotte Christianson VanDusseldorp. He graduated from Des Moines North High School where he was a Merit Scholar and played the trombone in the marching band. He married Denise O’Brien, a Daily Iowan reporter, in August 1966; they became the parents of two daughters. The Van family lived on the cul de sac on South Scoville for 25 years. Divorced in 1998, Van married Marsha Goldsmith, an editor at the Journal of American Medicine. They lived in Lakeview.
Van donated his body to science. A celebration of his life will be held later.
Van is survived by his wife Marsha; his daughters Kristin Virginia Van of Chicago and Lisa Van Pasquesi and her husband Scott of Elmwood Park, and their children Anthony Van Pasquesi, Ryan Scott Pasquesi and Tea Denise Pasquesi; his former wife Denise O’Brien Van of Jefferson, Iowa and several cousins, former colleagues and many friends.