Jon and Amy Dayton celebrate 50 years of marriagesula
Jon and Amy Dayton celebrate 50 years of marriage
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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.

Jon and Amy Dayton of the Old Mission Peninsula
Jon and Amy Dayton of the Old Mission Peninsula; “Welcome Home” photo taken at Wurtsmith AFB upon Jon’s return from a 3-month tour of duty at U-Tapao, Thailand, flying the Air Refueling missions into North Vietnam, just a few months after Jonathan Jr. was born and less than a year after they were married. Jonathan is in Amy’s arms; Shelly between them.

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.

Jon and Amy Dayton of Old Mission Peninsula
Jon and Amy Dayton at their home on the Old Mission Peninsula

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A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

Bay View Insurance of Traverse City Michigan


  1. Thank you Jane. Such a nice article on S2S.They work very hard to keep their dream going.
    We love your OM Gazette and the time plus talent you put into it.
    Sincerely, Amy & Jon Dayton


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