LOCAL HERO – Jetson leader remembered as ‘Veterans first’

Mary Kemper/Staff Writer

Photo of John Thofner Jetson provided by Amy Thofner

His passing was as typical of the man as his life was — “it was never about me, but Veterans,” he said, over and over.

  I only just found out about the passing of John Thofner Jetson, well known owner and operator of Jetson TV & Appliance, a Treasure Coast fixture with multiple locations.

  He passed away Nov. 15 at his home in Vero Beach. He was 71. I feel privileged to have known him, if only in brief intervals.

  Jetson TV & Appliance held annual Veterans Day events as part of its usual business days, inviting Veterans’ organizations from around the Treasure Coast to come and set up booths to raise awareness of their missions, including Wreaths Across America and many others.

  John also held numerous Veterans Appreciation Day events for the same reason. It was at one of these I first met him.

  John was busy, being pulled in many directions. Clearly, he wanted to hang around and chat with all the Veterans and supporters who showed up, but business called. I found him to be both no-nonsense and funny in a dry kind of a way. Our conversation was interrupted numerous times by employee concerns, to be juggled with the focus on Veterans. John only had maybe an hour, if that, to spend at the Appreciation Day. Some of that he carved out for me.

The obvious and cliched connection

  Naturally, I had to bring up the Jetson name with the 1960s animated series. What, I wanted to know, did John share with George?

  “Well, I wouldn’t mind if ‘push-button-itis’ was my only problem,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye.

  “Seriously, though, I do think our world will probably come to a day when everything is automated. If that’s the case, we [at Jetson TV & Appliance] will be right on it.”

  George Jetson was a family man, and so was John. John, however, kept his family matters securely close to his vest.

  He leaves behind son Trey Thofner of Vero Beach; sister, Lisa Kauffman of Fort Pierce; nephews, Adam Thofner and Kyle Kauffman both of Fort Pierce, and Scott Thofner of Tallahassee.

  In accordance with John’s wishes, the late animal lover asked for donations to be made to Dogs and Cats Forever, 4600 Selvitz Road, Fort Pierce, FL 34981 or to your local Humane Society.

  John was a tough Veteran, and no-nonsense businessman. But animals were a soft spot with him.

Military service

  As soon as John graduated high school in Pompano Beach in 1969, he enlisted in the Air Force, and became a crew chief specializing in reconnaissance.

  According to his legacy.com obituary:

  “John’s expertise as an air strike controller made him an intelligence source, munitions expert, communications specialist, and above all, the on-scene commander of the strike forces and the start of any subsequent combat search and rescue, if necessary. After leaving the Air Force, John, along with his brother Scott Thofner, founded and operated Jetson Appliance TV and Appliance in 1974.”

  John sidestepped my questions about his service in Vietnam. Time and time again, the answer was, “well, whatever, but it’s not about me. It’s about Veterans.”

  The same evasion came from questions about his building of the business that bore his name. “We look at what people want and need, and we answer it,” he said. Obviously, it was successful, and continues to be successful.

True Floridian

  John loved nothing more than fishing and sailing. At one point in one conversation, he said, “Gotta go. Sorry. If I’m lucky, I’ll catch the currents.”

  He was pulled in so many directions in life, but managed to indulge himself in the things that were important to him. The business surely took top priority. Veterans the same. He loved his fellow Veterans to the end. In between, somehow, some way, he found time to get out on the water.

  Veterans won’t forget him. I hope no one forgets him.

  I wish I could share a photo of John here, but Veteran Voice, as with other publications, must not overstep copyright requirements.

  Please visit https://tinyurl.com/y3qch5ru

 to see the happy John Jetson I met, and that so many knew.

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December Japanese attack signals war … in 1937

By Patrick McCallister
For Veteran Voice
patrick@veteranvoiceweekly.com

Photos courtesy of the Naval History and Heritage Command
Japanese warplanes attacked and sank the USS Panay on Sunday, Dec. 12, 1937, at the height of the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Panay was part of the Navy’s Yangtze Patrol, which operated gunboats on the Yangtze River, China.

The first strike in a war between Japan and the U.S. came on a December Sunday, but it was four years before the attack on Pearl Harbor. On Dec. 12, 1937, Japanese warplanes attacked and sank the USS Panay, an American gunboat on the Yangtze River engaged in embassy evacuations.

Today the USS Panay Incident, as it’s called, is barely remembered. But newspapers at the time ran all-caps headlines edge-to-edge on the front pages. For example, the Boston Herald headline “NIPPON PLANES BOMB AND SINK U.S. GUNBOAT PANAY.” Secretary of State Cordell Hull’s fear this attack on a Navy gunboat would lead to war.

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