In Memoriam: Former FEWA President Jere Fonda

Jere Fonda passed away on December 28 and is a past president of the Farm Equipment Wholesalers Association (FEWA) and 3rd generation owner of the John Day Company.

Jere was born and spent his youth in Medford, MA. Jere graduated from Melrose High School in 1947 and Tufts University with a BA in 1951. Jere’s many jobs as a young man included lifeguarding, delivering luggage for American Express, and driving for a short-haul trucking company to help further his education. Jere was a proud Marine, being inducted in 1951. The Marines would forever change and shape his life, and he was forever expressing appreciation for its lessons.

Jere then joined Bostonian Shoe and Leather Co. as a regional sales manager selling shoes up and down the eastern shore. On a trip west in 1954 to hire candidates to represent Bostonian shoes at the Nebraska Clothing Co. he met and soon married Susan Marjorie Day of Omaha, NE. They resided in Hanover, New Hampshire, and their first son, John Day Fonda, was born. In 1959, the family moved to Des Moines, IA, where John F. Day had offered Jere a position with the John Day Co. to open a branch in Des Moines, IA. Jere helped grow the John Day Co., opening and overseeing its other branches and eventually becoming the President and CEO.

Jere always had a strong work ethic, and a desire to give back to his community. His involvement in numerous organizations included being a past President of Conservative Savings and Loan, a Board of Trustees member of Omaha’s Children’s Memorial Hospital, and Chairman of its Foundation, as well as many other positions within his Children’s Hospital tenure; Board member of Norwest Bank; past President of the Omaha Country Club; a Councilor of the Knights of Ak-Sar-Ben; and a founding board member of the Kevin O’Connor Scholarship Fund.

In 1993, Jere and Diane Schaefer were married and spent a loving 30 years together. He loved golfing with family and friends, tennis, and bird hunting. Some would say he was a Turkey whisperer. Jere lived by the three “Fs”–Family, Faith, and Friendship. He was often described in the same sentence as tough, compassionate, and kind. Jere was strong in his convictions, straightforward, a loyal friend, and, most important, authentic.

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