Murray Bishoff: A great friend leaves us

Saturday, December 15, 2018

When Jon Suit was asked to join the Monett City Council after the resignation of H C. Beckwith in 1995, he fit the mold of a council member though he had never held public office.

He was retired, from the Army, with time on his hands, roots in town and interest in service. It seemed like a good fit.

As mayor, though, Suit struggled. A three-person city council before the city administrator position put a heavy burden on the top. Suit seemed to have difficulty making decisions. He may have not wanted people angry at him, something Beckwith as a retired top industrialist simply shook off. Suit served part of a term, left office and didnít look back.

However influential that experience was, Jon Suit did not turn his back on the community. He cultivated a keen understanding about how the town worked. He believed in the role of the civic groups and moved into more behind the scenes activism.

It almost seemed that wherever you turned, there he was. For decades he served as secretary of the Kiwanis Club, the one who keeps the chapter moving and sustains the continuity, besides volunteering in project after project. He took his turn as American Legion Post commander and stayed on year after year as an officer. He visited vets at the Veterans Home and helped for a time on funeral details.

If you went to Linn Thorntonís Christmas dinner, there was Suit in the serving line. He helped with the Salvation Army, had a major role with the Gideons in Monett promoting distribution of Bibles. He was active in the leadership of Habitat for Humanity and a long-time supporter of the Monett Historical Society. He served on a community advisory board for what is now Scott Tech, as well as president of the St. Vincentís Hospital Advisory Board and the Monett unit of the American Cancer Society. He served on the Monett Senior Center board, and more recently took on the duties of president. He was active in the leadership of Habitat for Humanity and a long-time supporter of the Monett Historical Society.

He served on a†community advisory board for what is now Scott Tech. He served on the Monett Senior Center board, and more recently took on the duties of president. He was generous to a fault, giving away significant amounts of money to causes he believed in. When Peggy Pinnell was in declining health, Suit visited regularly, running errands. Nor was she the only one.

While a few can lead, it takes supporters to back them up to make things happen and keep happening. Suit became the glue that held the ship together.

Deck after deck, there he was, working. Few people in the history of this town have dedicated so much of themselves to service on so many levels.

Suit had a big personality, too big for some. It wasnít that he filled a room, but you soon knew he was there. Because it felt like he had always been around, one could assume he would always be there. His sudden passing this week came as a terrible blow. Suitís absence will become felt more and more over time, a testament few can claim.†

Jon Suit had a passion for service. If only we knew how to grow that in others. He loved his town, its people, and helped even this newspaper find and share news, not just once, but year after year. He was a friend to Monett like few others.

Even though some days he could drive his best friends wild, he was a treasure we will deeply miss.

Murray Bishoff has served readers of The Monett Times since 1988. He can be reached at times-news@monett-times.com, or 417-235-3135.