Jonathan “Jon” Charles Layzer



February 10, 1965 – February 18, 2024


Image of Jonathan Charles Layzer

Jonathan Charles Layzer

Jonathan (Jon) Charles Layzer passed away on February 18, 2024, at home in Seattle with his loving family by his side, 36 years from the day he met Martha. Jon faced his 21-month battle with Cholangiocarcinoma with strength and courage, as well as with a dose of the classic humor he was known for. Jon was born in Boston, Massachusetts to David and Jean Layzer. He graduated from Belmont High School in 1982 and went on to graduate from Harvard University in 1986 earning a BA in Applied Mathematics.

Upon graduation, Jon remained in Boston and began his career in public works while working for the Boston Redevelopment Authority. During this time, he met his wife of 33 years, Martha Munroe Layzer. The night they met they participated in Boston’s first homeless census in February 1988. They were married three years later and often reflected upon the unique event that brought them together. In August 1989, Jon and Martha ventured across the country and settled in Seattle, Washington where they both attended graduate school at the University of Washington, and went on to raise their children, Bailey and Corey (formerly known as Clara).

Jon had a remarkable 32-year career in public service in the Seattle area. His career began in earnest after receiving his Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington Evans School of Public Affairs in 1992. During his time in graduate school he worked as Research Fellow, served as Student Body President and Graduate & Professional Student Senator. From 1992-2000 he worked at the Puget Sound Regional Council in Seattle and at Community Transit in Everett. During this time, he served on the Seattle Design Commission, an appointment that he took great pride in for years to come.

In August of 2000 he began his esteemed 24-year career with the City of Seattle where he earned the respect and admiration of those he worked with. His career at the City of Seattle began as a Strategic Advisor in the Strategic Planning Office where upon he received an award for excellence in planning from the American Planning Association.  From there he transitioned to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) where he served in many capacities, working in Capital and Major Projects as a liaison to Sound Transit and later with WSDOT, and ending as the Director of Interagency Programs. His innumerable projects included the light rail tunnel retrofit through downtown Seattle, the Central Waterfront and Seawall Replacement and Rail Program, the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project, SR-99 Tunnel and SR-520 improvements. In these roles he always strived to “bridge the gap” between agencies. Jon had a deep passion for his work in public service. His calm and patient intellect fostered meaningful connections throughout his career. His contributions and legacy to the City of Seattle will remain for years to come.

Beyond his professional accomplishments Jon was a devoted and exemplary father. He embodied the best qualities of unconditional love and strength of spirit and generosity. He was passionate about supporting his children’s endeavors and spending quality time with them all throughout their lives. He was always present and available to have deep conversations, take hikes, and help them face life’s challenges. He relished telling anyone who would listen his long stories, countless jokes and silly puns.

Jon found endless joy working in his yard. Whether he was pruning or planting he found comfort in this space. One of his last good days he spent in his backyard tending to his surroundings. The family is fortunate to have lived with outstanding neighbors for the past 30 years and Jon welcomed the comradery and friendship he shared with each of them.  He always loved the neighborhood gatherings and more recently enjoyed Friday morning walks to the bakery with the guys.  Jon had a passion for sports – whether he was on the basketball court himself or watching his beloved Celtics and Boston Bruins. He also treasured time outdoors hiking, cross-country skiing, and he would never miss a chance to jump in a lake and swim, which stems from his time as a competitive swimmer and water polo player in high school and college. Throughout his illness he continued to take hikes and walks to embrace the outdoors.

Jon was a brilliant, gentle and kind man who had a tremendous influence on his nieces and nephews who span from the East Coast to Alaska. He was also adored and admired by his sisters- and brothers-in-law, who welcomed his many stories about his life and work. His love and humor will be fiercely missed by each of them.

Jon is survived by his wife Martha (Munroe) Layzer, children Bailey (28) and Corey (25), his mother Jean, his siblings Carolyn (Judy), Nick, and Emily Sherwood (Ned). He was preceded in death by his father, David and sisters Judy and Daryl.

Jon’s departure comes as a great shock and is gravely felt by the entire family and countless others who loved him deeply in his wide network of work, community and neighbors. The family appreciates the immense support received during his treatment and passing.  In lieu of flowers, we ask you to consider contributing to the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation or the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center.

A celebration of life will be planned for a future date.

“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.” ~ Toni Morrison


10 Responses to “Jonathan “Jon” Charles Layzer”

  • Carolyn and Mike D'Albora says:

    What a beautiful tribute to a kind and beautiful man, who will be deeply missed. Holding you all in our hearts.

  • Liz, Jeff and Kai Haven says:

    Such a wonderful man, such an wonderful family!! Our hearts are with each of you! XOXO Liz, Jeff and Kai Haven

  • Mary Ruckelshaus and Sam Shabb says:

    I love thinking about the legacy Jon leaves, in his family, his kindness to so many, and in our public roadways! love to you all

  • Jeff Kerzner says:

    A beautifully written tribute about a true scholar and gentleman who will be sorely missed by all who loved him and by those whose lives he’s touched. Rest in peace, Jon.

  • Joan Kerzner says:

    Dear Jon – you made so many important and loving contributions to your friends, family and community. Having known you since you were in first grade, I watched you grow and develop as a man and as a professional and I’m proud to call you a friend.

  • Sherysse Morris says:

    Jon was a beautiful person full of joy. He was always supportive and encouraging. I will sharing our adventures and rivalry of our east sports… me being from NYC and Jon from Bean Town made for interesting conversations and trash talk lol. I miss that genuine friendship and great smile. RIH Jon, you will be missed. Thoughts and prayers to your family.

  • Danielle Priest says:

    I learned much from observing and working to support projects that Jon led at SDOT in my early years at the City (2012-2015). I am so grateful that he took time to answer questions, provide mentorship and feedback when I would get stuck, and would always bring great energy and attitude to every space – transforming work and making it FUN! I send sincere condolences, and reassurance that his memory is alive and well – and assurance that his influence will continue to show in how I approach my City work. Thank you for sharing him.

  • Gretchen M. Haydel says:

    Jon’s kind nature always came through before he even spoke. Few people have this gift so when you feel it, you know it is something special.

    May his memory be a blessing and inspiration to all who had the opportunity to cross his path.

    My condolences to his family, I pray you find comfort in each other in this difficult time.

  • William G. McGillin says:

    I was privileged to work closely with Jon during my years with the Seattle City Attorney’s office. He was the consummate professional, blessed with a brilliant mind, meticulous in his approach to problem solving, and who brought enthusiasm and joy to the job each day. I always wanted to work on projects with Jon. My sincerest sympathies are with his family, friends and colleagues, who I know will all miss him, but who will always cherish the memory of the man.

  • Amy Gray says:

    In the few instances where I worked with Jon, he was always so kind and thoughtful. He took the time to explain things and made you feel like you mattered. I will miss him. I am deeply sorry for your loss.

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