Jon Cieslak JD ’79


Jon Chester Cieslak JD ’79 died October 11, 2021, following complications from spinal surgery. He was 72.

Born in Minneapolis to Evelyn Cieslak and Edwin S. Cieslak, Jon was raised in St. Louis Park and graduated from Benilde High School. Following his graduation from Princeton University in 1971, he was commissioned a U.S. Army officer and served 23 years. Jon was appointed to the Judge Advocate General’s Corps shortly after earning his JD. He culminated his military career as a lieutenant colonel and legal counsel to the adjutant general of Minnesota.

As vice president of development for the Minnesota Zoo, Jon was proud to “feed the tigers.” He excelled as a fundraising volunteer and board member for numerous community organizations. A consummate cook and storyteller, Jon nourished family and friends at the dinner table. He gifted the joys of Polish culture to the next generations, particularly through the celebration of Wigilia, the Polish Christmas Eve. Jon loved the West, where he fly-fished trout streams and followed the trails of his cowboy heroes.

Jon was preceded in death by his mother, father, and stepfather, Francis J. Nahurski. He is survived by his wife Ann, with whom he celebrated 50 loving years of marriage in June 2021; children Jennifer, Madeline, Kathryn, Marian, and Jon; grandchildren Conrad, Josephine, Roland, Beatrice, and David; brother Paul; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins.