Jon Dayton sent a note along asking if I publish wedding anniversaries. I wrote back right away and said, yes! I’d love to!
Jon and his wife Amy Jo have lived in the old Mathison farmhouse on Center Road for 35 years. Jon is an associate broker with Real Estate One, and their kids are Jonathan, the chef and co-owner of S2S, Sugar to Salt at the Grand Traverse Commons (his partner Stephanie Wiitala is also an owner), and Shelly, who owns The Flying Pig in Bellaire.
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Jon and Amy Jo’s love story has a beautiful backstory. It all began when Jon – a bachelor Air Force Captain – walked into the AuSable Inn for dinner one evening and was met by a “young and gorgeous blonde waitress.”
Jon was just back from a combat tour over the jungles of Vietnam, where he served as a Forward Air Controller during the entire year of 1967.
The waitress, says Jon, was “a recently divorced single mom who wanted nothing to do with men. Ever again!” That is, until he smiled at her, he says.
Less than a year later, while Jon was back overseas flying Air Refueling missions supporting fighters coming off target in Hanoi, Amy Jo was busy working two jobs in Oscoda, Michigan, when her mom suddenly died of a massive stroke – and Amy also learned she was pregnant.
Jon and Amy married that July in 1969. “From that day forward, Shelly, who turned six that summer, and Jonathan Jr, born the following winter, have been the most important and precious jewels in our lives,” says Jon.
After 26 years of active duty, Jon retired as a Lt. Colonel and senior instructor pilot in charge of Base Operations at Wurtsmith Air Force Base, and they moved their little family across the state to Traverse City.
Jon joined Real Estate One and was quickly elected President of the Traverse Area Association of Realtors. Amy, an industrious and creative artist, started Amy Jo’s Folk Art Studio. You can find her art, plants and more in her space at The Red Dresser in Traverse City.
Six years ago, the Daytons welcomed a granddaughter to the clan – Esme’ lris Wiitala-Dayton – to keep this 50-year-old love story forever young. “For Gramma and Papa, life is good!” says Jon.
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