John Wesley “Jack” Strayer III, age 67 years of Niles, Michigan died unexpectedly at 2:57 p.m. at Lakeland Medical Center in Saint Joseph, Michigan.
He was born on March 7, 1951 in Niles to Dr. John W. and Virginia (Eaglesfield) Strayer. He graduated from Niles High School, and earned his Bachelor’s degree from Albion (Michigan) College. He began a remarkable career in national policy and politics as the successful Campaign Manager for David Stockman’s election to the United States House of Representatives, and went to Washington, D.C. in 1976 with Congressman Stockman to assist him and manage his office. Jack returned to Michigan in 1980 to serve as Press Secretary for the Republican Caucus for the Michigan House of Representatives. In 1981, Mr. Stockman was appointed by President Reagan to be the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Jack returned to Washington to serve as Director Stockman’s Personal Assistant.
In 1986, Jack moved to the private sector to represent the National Association of Convenience Stores, and went on to serve as a legislative consultant for the law office of Taylor Thiemann & Aitken. He then served from 1992 until 1997 as Director of Federal Affairs for the Council for Affordable Health Insurance. Jack was a strong proponent of the Medical Savings Account (MSA) program, which was successfully included in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), passed by congress in 1996.
On January 1, 1998, he began his position as Vice-President – External Affairs for the National Center for Policy Analysis, a non-profit research center focused on alternatives to government regulation. Jack’s Pennsylvania Avenue office view of the United States Capitol encouraged his policy writing to serve the needs of the country through free market health reform initiatives. His writing led him to host seminars and moderate panel discussions of national and international leaders on these and other economic issues including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). His knowledge and experience, supplemented by a great sense of humor led to many television and radio interviews. He was also a weekly syndicated guest columnist for the Knight-Ridder newspaper chain.
That sense of humor and knowledge of the “ins and outs” of Washington coupled with his sense of respect and honor gave Jack a great reputation for writing speeches to be read at honors banquets and “roasts”. Any speaker walking into one of these events carrying the speech written by Jack was assured of laughter and ovation.
In 2008 Jack returned to Niles, but was not retired. He was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church and its Vestry, Director of Development and Marketing for the campaign for the Expo Arena at the Berrien County Youth Fair, Vice-Chair for Fund Development for the Niles Education Foundation, a member of the Berrien Springs-Eau Claire Club of Rotary International, and wrote the “Speaking From Experience” column for the Niles Daily Star. He also served as Campaign Manager – again, successful – for Sharon Tyler’s 2008 election to the Michigan House of Representatives.
When not out advocating for a cause, or listening for the opinion of others, he enjoyed flower gardening, reading current events, and cooking, especially White Lasagna with no vegetables, please. His greatest interest group was his family.
He was preceded in death by his father, John W. Strayer, M.D.
Surviving family includes his mother, Virginia E. “Ginny” Strayer of Niles; sisters, Kathryn (& Jerry) Rossow of Buchanan, Michigan and Anne (& Rev. Michael) Comer of Eaton Rapids, Michigan; nieces and nephews, Elizabeth Rossow, Peter (& Jamie) Rossow, Amy (& Michael) Williams, Sarah (& Joseph) Young, Jonathan (& Christa) Comer; and grand-nieces and nephews, John, William, Anna, Eliott, Frances, Grace, Morgan, Caroline, Caden, Brooklyn, and Addilyn.
Trinity Episcopal Church
9 South Fourth Street, Niles MI 49120
Niles-Buchanan Meals on Wheels
31 North Saint Joseph Avenue, Niles MI 49120
Berrien County Youth Fair
9122 Old U.S. 31, Berrien Springs MI 49103