Jon Van

Jon Van, 75, a former Oak Parker, died of Parkinson’s Disease at his daughter Lisa Pasquesi’s home in Elmwood Park on July 10, 2019.

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 weekly humor column for the paper’s Little Trib. He retired in 2008 as the Tribune business section’s technology writer.

A dogged reporter and gifted writer, he could explain for the 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 editor of the Daily Iowan student newspaper and a member of Sigma Chi and the national leadership honor society, Omicron Delta Kappa. In 1968, he earned a graduate degree in political science.

An avid cyclist, he commuted from Oak Park to the Tribune for many years, winter and summer. 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. Known for his quick wit and apt observations, he loved beer and jazz.

Born in Des Moines in 1943, 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 South Scoville for 25 years. Divorced in 1998, he married Marsha Goldsmith, an editor at the Journal of American Medicine. They lived in Lakeview.

Van is survived by his wife, Marsha; his daughters, Kristin Virginia Van and Lisa Van Pasquesi (Scott) and their children Anthony Van Pasquesi, Ryan Scott Pasquesi and Tea Denise Pasquesi; his former wife, Denise O’Brien Van; and several cousins, former colleagues and many friends. 

He donated his body to science. A celebration of his life will be held later.

This obituary has been changed to correct the year Mr. Van retired from the Chicago Tribune.

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