Posted 3/1/15 – Jon Zenn Inskeep passed away at the Villa Gardens in Pasadena on February 15, 2015. Beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend, he will be intensely missed. He lived, until his last month, an active and driven lifestyle.
Jon was born on March 23, 1933 and raised in Pennsylvania by his parents, Alonzo and Dorothy Inskeep. He graduated from McKeesport High School where he met the love of his life, Susan Adams. After attending Yale University and graduating with a degree in Electrical Engineering in 1954, he decided that he wanted to move to California to live near the beach; so away he went. Once in California, he convinced Susan to move across the country and marry him. They started a life together that would include 60 years of loving marriage.
After working for several aerospace companies Jon settled down in Lancaster, CA to work for NASA as an Instrumentation Engineer in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Edwards Air Force Base. All four of his children – Mike, Wendy, Jon, and Dan – were born in Lancaster. Then in 1968 JPL transferred him to their Pasadena facility and the family made the move to La Canada, where he and Susan resided for more than 40 years. His work at JPL included rocket testing, part design for spacecraft, and military and civilian projects. During this time he also shepherded all four of his children into receiving bachelor’s degrees at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
In the mid-1960’s Jon discovered his passion for mountaineering. He climbed all the highest peaks in the western United States as well as major peaks in Mexico, Europe, and Africa (Denali, The Grand Teton, Kilimanjaro, and the Matterhorn to name a few). By including his children in his passion, he was climbing peaks with them all over the American southwest and beyond. He was also a founding member of the California Mountaineering Club, was involved in organizing and leading climbs, and held leadership positions within the Sierra Club’s climbing groups in Southern California.
His love of mountaineering also led to more than twenty years of involvement with the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team. His knowledge and expertise helped save the lives of hundreds of stranded and lost people. He participated in operations all over the southwest as well as in Mexico and Hawaii and made lifelong friends with the other members of his team.
After his retirement Jon and Susan enjoyed traveling throughout the U.S. and around the world. Whether in Europe, Australia, Africa, or cruising down the Mississippi River on the Delta Queen (one of their favorites), they always came back with great pictures and stories. “Grumps”, as he was affectionately called by his grandchildren, included his children and grandchildren on some of these adventures and took the family cruising on trips through the Panama Canal and the Inland Passage of Alaska. He reveled in the beauty of the world and did his best to share this appreciation with those that he loved.
Jon is survived by his wife Susan, his children and their spouses – Mike and Geri, Wendy and Doug, Jon and Chuchay, and Dan and Becky, his grandchildren – Helena and Caleb, Patrick and Alicia, Jon, Reid and Erin, his step-mother Prisilla and half-sisters – Eppie and Meg, and his many close friends in the climbing community. His passing will leave a hole in all of their hearts, the type that can only be left by the loss of such a magnanimous man.
In lieu of flowers, please send a donation to the Villa Gardens Employee Fund for their kind and loving support of both Jon and his wife Susan.