Jonathan David Hockenberger, age 39, passed into the presence of Jesus on Saturday, August 28, 2021. He was born in Fremont, Ohio, the youngest child of Robert and Susan Hockenberger, with three older sisters (Sarah, Abby, and Lydia). When he was two, his family relocated to Flint, Michigan, where Jon grew to adulthood.
In 2004, Jon married Mandy Dennis, whom he had met in kindergarten at the school they both attended. Mandy had liked him on and off through the school years because he knew how to have fun without being disrespectful and had a kind heart. Jon felt handsome because Mandy liked him! In 1998 when Mandy truly encountered Jesus in her life, she and Jon were drawn more closely together.
However, they went to different colleges because of different career interests and to see if God really wanted them together or not. Jon wanted to study Electrical Engineering. By their junior year Mandy transferred to the same school to finish her education degree and to be near Jon.
After their marriage they continued to live for a time in South Carolina. Mandy had another semester to finish, and Jon first did house painting and then had his first exposure to manufacturing with an engineering role at Square D Inc., customizing industrial drive motor control designs.
In 2006, Jon accepted a manufacturing engineering role at General Motors, and relocated to Grand Blanc, MI. As GM progressed through the corporate bankruptcy and restructuring, Jon had firsthand experience in engineering oversight of the refurbishment of GM’s stamping press equipment at Flint Metal Fab (including bringing donuts to encourage the work teams!).
Jon and Mandy had a heart for the inner-city children in Flint and worked with the youth outreach at their church. Since at that point they had no children of their own, they had time and energy to pour love into the hearts of the teens that attended.
In 2009 Jon was transferred to the GM Metal Fab Facility in Parma, Ohio, which is on Cleveland’s West side. Jon had multiple assignments in manufacturing, engineering, and management over the years. He earned a MS in Manufacturing Management and earned a certification as a Six-Sigma black belt, working on many workflow and productivity improvements.
As they relocated, he and Mandy had already decided that they wanted to be part of Parkside Church (on the East side of Cleveland in Bainbridge), and were looking to live somewhere between work and church and near bike trails! Brecksville became their new home.
As time passed Jon and Mandy continued to feel the frustration of childlessness. A door to foreign adoption from Ethiopia seemed to open and they pursued this actively. But that door closed with no result. Meanwhile they took foster care training for Cuyahoga County. After completing that training in 2012, they waited for the call. Their first placement was for precious baby Cierra. The next day Mandy found out she was pregnant herself! Cierra was placed to a relative early in 2013 and Jade was born a couple months later in April. Baby Ethan was also placed in their care for a short time before being placed to a relative. Another foster care placement came in September of 2014 as Claire joined the family. Claire was adopted in June of 2016.
The ministry at Parkside blossomed as Jon and Mandy felt called to be part of the West side church plant in 2015. Their home became the location for the Parma/Brecksville Community group. Jon eventually became a lay elder in the growing congregation.
2017 was a challenging year as Jon & Mandy found out early in January that she was pregnant with a baby boy with a terminal condition. They walked the hard road together until April when Isaac came, still-born. They named him Isaac as an offering to God – “Whether he lives or dies, he is the Lords”. Seven weeks later Foster care called to tell them that Claire’s mom had just delivered a baby girl and asked if they would take her? Of course, they would! Ruby joined the family and was adopted the following year.
When Ruby was five months old, they found out Mandy was pregnant again. He is named Matthew (gift of God) David (Jon’s middle name).
Jon as a Dad: He likes to play games, loves popcorn, and enjoys Friday nights and family movie nights. He has a calming presence, but he can make a game out of anything. He loves his family and extended family and dear friends that he grew up with who now live far away.
He loved the challenge – all of life was a strategy game. He loved riding bicycles and “evangelized” others on the benefits of riding! He loved getting a good deal on a bike, a car, or shoes. He could fix anything around the house, even the washing machine – which he repaired multiple times! He loved to figure things out. He loved Honey Hut ice cream and always wanted to eat ice cream with others, counting these experiences as true blessings to be enjoyed.
Back at work, Jon took an interest in others and made new people feel welcome. A co-worker called Jon a “well put together man”. He could laugh at himself, even at his last name. He paid attention to details.
Jon wrestled with a very different and dangerous adversary for the last nine months. Leukemia attacked his very blood. Yet Jon approached this challenge and journey with courage and optimism through the initial treatment and then through the stem cell transplant which gave relief for a time and even remained optimistic after the cancer returned. How could he do this?
Jon could be optimistic to the end because he also embraced the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:1-2, 5-7 ESV, where Paul the Apostle (and a tentmaker) uses the analogy of our bodies being a tent:
“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling…He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith and not by sight.”
As you read this today, Jon and Isaac are holding hands with Jesus, who is “keeping the lights on for us” and for all who trust in Him for salvation from our sin. God Bless all of you.
Visitation will be at Parkside Church (7100 Pettibone Rd, Chagrin Falls, OH 44023) on Wednesday September 1 from 3-7 pm. The funeral will be at the same location on Thursday, September 2 at 10 am. All are welcome. Interment Brecksville Highland Drive Cemetery, Brecksville, Ohio.
Memorial donations may be made to Garden Christian Academy and The City Mission, both located in and serving the people of Cleveland.
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