Fr. John Yockey celebrated his last funeral at St. Jerome Parish, Oconomowoc, June 19, before he retires at the end of June. It was a funeral filled with emotion and sorrow but also, “at the same time, it was very, very uplifting,” Fr. Yockey said.

Working at the Culver’s stand at Summerfest several years ago, left to right, are Tyler Marks, Jon Derynda, Trevor Marks, and Michael Delvecchio. Jon Derynda, 20, died after crossing the finish line of the Summerfest Rock ‘n Sole half-marathon on June 13. (Submitted photo courtesy Trevor Marks)

The funeral was for Jon Derynda who died after collapsing from cardiac arrest after finishing the Summerfest Rock ’n Sole half
marathon, June 13, with friends and family. Jon, only son of Mike and Tammy Derynda and older brother of Brittany and Tiffany, was just two days shy of his 21st birthday. 

“I personally thought that the Holy Spirit was very much in evidence in the assembly and all throughout the four-hour visitation,” Fr. Yockey told the Catholic Herald in a telephone interview Monday.

He said the Derynda family has been a constant presence in the parish for over 10 years.  

“Jon grew up in such a giving family,” he said, adding the Deryndas own the Culver’s restaurant in Oconomowoc and are always looking to help others. “They are super, super generous – very philanthropic.”

How to help

If you wish to support the Jon Derynda Scholarship Fund, created by Jon’s family for students majoring in business at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, make a donation by Sunday, June 28, at

Even in his death Jon could help up to 70 people because his organs were donated, according to his obituary.

Fr. Yockey said he told the family that their selflessness came through in Jon as over 1,000 people came to the wake and funeral.

“That’s the spirit he carried on,” he said. “The race itself was for charity.” 

The Rock ’n Sole run, whose net proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee, one of the largest and longest youth-serving agencies in Milwaukee, and the Summerfest Foundation, a 501c3 charitable corporation that supports the initiatives of Milwaukee World Festival Inc., which includes charitable and educational purposes, and providing a showcase for the performing arts.

After Jon’s death the family set up the Jon Derynda Scholarship Fund for students attending the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and majoring in business, which is what Jon was doing. According to his obituary, he had just completed his junior year.

“Even in their grief, they realize the most laudatory way to honor Jon would be to help upcoming students who might need some financial assistance,” Fr. Yockey said. “That’s typical, typical Derynda.”

Trevor Marks knew Jon and the Derynda family well. He said his brother Tyler was best friends with Jon, and his sister Tessa is friends with Jon’s sister Brittany. 

He said Tessa ran the half-marathon with Brittany, Tiffany (Jon’s youngest sister) and Tammy (Jon’s mother). 

“Jon was an awesome kid,” Marks told the Catholic Herald in a telephone interview Monday. “Everybody liked him…he’ll be missed.”

For the last two years, Marks has been organizing party buses to Summerfest and other events. After Jon’s death, Marks said the revenue from the buses on the first day of Summerfest, June 24, would go to the scholarship fund.

“I was going to be doing these buses regardless,” he said. “Instead of me making money off of it, I’m putting everything on that Wednesday into the scholarship fund.”

So far, Marks said he has raised close to $500 and is predicting he’ll raise over $3,000. His goal was, initially, $2,000.

Marks worked at the Culver’s owned by the Deryndas and so did his brother, Tyler.

“I personally just wanted to give back and help out the Deryndas,” he said.

Jon is also survived by his grandparents Mike and Marlene Derynda of Pewaukee and Lee and Jeanne Sabel of Fond du lac; aunts and uncles Michele (Brian) Grunze of Waterford, Maryrose (Jeff) Plambeck of Delafield, Wendy (Pat) Miller of Germantown, and Heidi (Todd) Fendos of Wauwatosa; and cousins Mikaela, Mia and Mariah Grunze, Sienna and Tenley Plambeck, Ryan, Jessie and Aaron Miller, and Adam and Grant Fendos.