A Believer in Fitness
There were a lot of sides to Jon Schlissel, and he was passionate about every one of them. He was religious about maintaining his health, and he exercised nearly every day. At 51, Mr. Schlissel had washboard abs and a physique that was the envy of his friends. He was also a dedicated naturist.
To people who toured historic homes in Jersey City, Mr. Schlissel was the man who owned a 14-room Victorian-style brownstone, painstakingly restored and furnished with items from the Victorian era.
His co-workers at the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, where Mr. Schlissel worked for 29 years, knew him as a dedicated employee. He last worked as a mediator for the agency, but he also knew how to stir things up. He challenged politicians on a variety of issues, including civil rights for gays, and was the kind of advocate who refused to let term limits stop him from serving in his neighborhood civic association.
''Even when he couldn't be in it anymore, he'd be the one making sure that there was ketchup for everyone when they had a potluck dinner,'' said his brother, Laurence.
Jon Schlissel was faithful to his 80-year-old mother, Ruth, calling her every Saturday morning and visiting her in Florida twice a year. ''My son Larry used to talk from 10 to 11, and then I'd talk to Jonny,'' his mother said. Now, she said, ''At 11, I cry. My nieces and nephews call. They try. No one's going to take Jonny's place.''
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on December 23, 2001.