Joseph J. "Jay" Jaso Jr. dies at age 52

The financial adviser was an avid flier who had earned his private pilot's license earlier this year

August 16, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Joseph J. "Jay" Jaso Jr., an Ellicott City financial planner and adviser who realized a lifelong dream this year when he earned his pilot's license, was killed Aug. 10 when a single-engine Cessna 172 he was aboard crashed in Massachusetts.

He was 52.

Mr. Jaso and his longtime friend and flight instructor, Jack Allen Johnson, 61, also of Ellicott City, were en route to Bar Harbor, Maine, where they had planned a hiking and fishing vacation, when their plane went down.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Jaso and Mr. Jackson had departed Fort Meade and had just finished refueling at Orange Municipal Airport, some 40 miles northwest of Worcester, Mass., when their plane crashed about 9:10 p.m.

The crash remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

"They don't know at this time whether Jack or Jay was controlling the plane at the time of the accident," said Mr. Jaso's ex-wife, the former Sandy Penrose, who had been married to Mr. Jaso for 14 years before divorcing.

Mr. Jaso, the son of a draftsman and a homemaker, was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Zelienople, Pa., a nearby suburb.

After graduating in 1976 from Seneca Valley High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1982 from the University of Maryland, College Park. In 1986, he earned a master's degree in business administration from the Johns Hopkins University.

While earning his master's degree, Mr. Jaso worked at Teledyne Industries in Hunt Valley, and after becoming a certified financial planner, he established his own financial consulting firm, The Planners, in Columbia.

In addition to his company, he also was affiliated with Hill, Solow, Jason and Molesy during the early 1990s and with McNally Financial Services Corp. in San Antonio at the time of his death.

"Jay was a brilliant entrepreneur and probably one of the classiest entrepreneurs that I've ever met. He pursued various business opportunities with an amazing amount of vigor and focus," said Kenneth R. Solow, who is senior partner and chief investment officer of the Pinnacle Advisory Group Inc., which is based in Columbia, and who had previously had a business relationship with Mr. Jaso.

"His core business was financial planning and money management. He built portfolios for clients and managed them, and he also maintained a tax practice," Mr. Solow said. "He cared deeply about two things: his business and clients."

Mr. Jaso, who stood 6 feet, 5 inches tall, was an imposing figure.

"He certainly was one of the brightest and most charismatic figures I've ever met. When he entered a room, he took over with his booming voice and bear hugs," Mr. Solow said. "And when he focused on someone, it was as if they were the only person in the universe. He really was a very caring individual."

It had been Mr. Jaso's lifelong dream to earn a pilot's license. But when he was in high school, his dream of entering the U.S. Air Force Academy ended his junior year after a student swinging a golf club hit him, leaving him blind in one eye.

"He worked hard to get where he got. He loved flying and overcame a lot of difficulties to get his license," Ryan Short, a San Antonio flying instructor who had worked with Mr. Jaso, said Monday.

"He only had one eye, and he passed the Federal Aviation Administration competency test that allowed him to fly. He had to demonstrate his competency," said Mr. Short. "Jay was a likeable guy who tried really hard."

Mr. Jaso was awarded his license earlier this year.

In addition to flying, he was an enthusiastic outdoorsman who enjoyed hiking, white water rafting, fishing and golf.

He was an active communicant of St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City and its sister parish, St. Andrews in Glenwood, Howard County, where he had served on the church's stewardship committees.

"In the face of this tragedy, there is a sense of peace among his family. There is unity and no drama or anger. This is a reflection of how Jay lived his life. He had a sense of being present in all of his relationships," said the Rev. Mary Jayne Ledgerwood, former rector of St. John's Episcopal Church in Ellicott City, who is now pastor of St. John's Episcopal Church in McLean, Va.

"He lived life fully and gave of himself admirably. Jay was a truly good man and it was an honor to have known him," Mrs. Ledgerwood said.

He had also been a coach for the Howard County Park and Recreation Council.

One of his fondest memories, family members said, was accompanying his son on a challenging 100-mile hike with Boy Scout Troop 757 at the Boy Scout Jamboree in Philmont, N.M., some years back.

Services for Mr. Jaso will be held at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at his church, 9120 Frederick Road in Ellicott City.

Also surviving are his son, Matthew A. Jaso, a senior at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; a daughter, Kimberly G. Jaso, a sophomore at New York University; his mother, Frances Jaso of Zelienople; two brothers, Jeffrey Jaso of Atlanta and Jonathan Jaso of Pittsburgh; a sister, Jennifer Hall of Sewickley, Pa.; and several nieces and nephews.

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