Religions and Spirituality

Edison Loses a Dear Friend in John Spiess

John Spiess was the director of the NJ Rising Stars Girls AAU Basketball Program for the past 43 years and the Special Events Coordinator for the Edison Recreation Department for over 25 years. Credits: Edison Recreation Department
John with his wife Lisa. Credits: Edison Recreation Department
John with his daughter Kari Credits: Edison Recreation Department
John with his faithful companion Max Credits: Edison Recreation Department

EDISON, NJ - On Monday, July 14, Edison suffered a great loss with the passing of John Spiess. At the age of 60, John succumbed to the cancer he had fought for the past year. He is survived by his wife Lisa, daughter Kari, faithful companion Max and his sister Virginia Vodola. 

John was a 27 year employee with the Township of Edison within the Recreation Department. His official title was Special Events Coordinator, but he was more than that to those he came in contact with. Besides being a husband and father to his own family, he was part of the greater Edison family where he was a coach, friend, mentor, father-figure and colleague just to name a few. John was also the director of the NJ Rising Stars Girls AAU Basketball Program for the past 43 years. 

The outpouring of sympathy and condolences for the Spiess family on Facebook has been tremendous. John is described by those who knew him as special person, a sweet man, good man and good friend, great guy, nice guy, great man and dear friend. This list goes on as well.

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“Edison Township, our Recreation Department especially, has suffered a great loss. John leaves a legacy of hard work, commitment, a sense of humor and community spirit that will be missed,” said Mayor Thomas Lankey. “My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and the many children he coached throughout the years

John did much more than plan special events for the Edison Recreation Department. He managed the six week summer playground program, interviewing, hiring and placing 75 kids each year to work with children in our neighborhood parks. He set up the playground field day activities and end of season carnival. He arranged all of the department’s trips; such as, Atlantic City, Yankee Games, Dorney Park, Hurricane Harbor, Great Adventure, Radio City, Thanksgiving Day Parade, a day in New York and many more.

I as well as my staff will miss John for his friendship, the laughter he brought into the workplace, his professionalism and his creativity which made our jobs more interesting. It will never be the same,” said Denise Halliwell, Director of Recreation Edison Township.

John assigned all of the youth leagues’ use of township and board of education facilities. He was instrumental in getting the first cricket fields built for this ever growing sport. John loved to plan special events for the community and there were several; such as, Martin L. King Birthday Celebration, African American Heritage Month, Little Darlins’ Dance, Easter Funday, Concert Series and 4th of July Celebration, Drive-In Movies, Fall Family Spectacular, Harvest Festival, Halloween Haunted House, Township Christmas Tree Lighting and Township Menorah Lighting according to Denise Halliwell, Director of Recreation Edison Township.

Everyone’s life touches so many others and like ripples in the ocean we can’t see how far the ripples go, however, in John’s case the ripples cross decades and generations and continue to ripple.  

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the NJ Rising Stars Girls AAU Basketball, 15 Pine St. Edison, NJ 08817. 

Visitation will be held on Friday, July 18, 2014 from 1 - 4 p.m. followed by a funeral service at 4 p.m. at the Minnie B. Veal Community Center.1070 Grove Avenue, Edison.  Cremation ceremony will be private. 

Editors Note: If you like to share your stories and or photos of John Spiess. Send an email to We will publish them as a collection.


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