John W. Gerdelman

January 4, 2020
John W. Gerdelman

John passed away January 4, 2020 at his home in Williamsburg, VA following a courageous battle with ALS.  John was surrounded by his wife Sue, his children and their families over the Christmas holiday.  He was a wonderful husband, father, grandfather, accomplished business executive, telecommunications entrepreneur, naval aviator and friend to many.

A 1975 graduate of William & Mary, John was a three-year football letterman and 1974 Academic All-American.  John married his college sweetheart Sue Hanna following her graduation. Commissioned in the United States Navy in 1976, he earned his aviator wings and flew the EA-6B Prowler carrier-based electronic warfare jet on active duty for six years.

John was a successful business executive and entrepreneur.  He was an early adopter of telecommunication technology and internet services that led to a number of leadership roles in the industry.  John’s business career began with Baxter-Travenol where he gained a reputation as a leader in innovative uses of technology.  He was President of Pioneer TeleTechnologies/MCI Services and later networkMCI, a world class telemarketing, sales and service company.  He served as President & CEO of USA.NET; Managing Member of an initial stage investment fund for technology ventures; founded Intelliden in 2000 and served as Executive Chairman until 2010; President of Long Lines, a Midwest private telecommunication company sold in 2015.  Following his corporate career he became an investor in technology companies, start-ups and was a turn-around specialist for technology businesses. John served on many corporate boards including Brocade, Owens & Minor and Local Voice.

John was passionate about his Alma Mater and gave his time, talent and treasure to William & Mary. He served two terms on the Board of Visitors, he was Chair of the William & Mary Foundation, Chair of the Real Estate Foundation Board and a member of the Tribe Club Board. John received the Alumni Medallion in 2005, the highest alumni honor bestowed by the University. In 2019, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. John’s favorite role at W&M was as a fan, proudly wearing green & gold to cheer on the Tribe at every opportunity.

John was an avid outdoorsman, golfer and was happiest when working at Pigs Point, his timber farm on the Chickahominy River in Charles City County.  Pigs Point was his playground where he created a place for family and friends to gather, share a glass of wine and relax.  He was most at home working the grounds, tending his garden and crabbing on the river.

John was a loving husband, proud father and playful grandfather.  He is survived by his wife of 43 years Sue Hanna Gerdelman, his son Mark Gerdelman (Rebecca) and their son Benjamin and his daughter Emily Ridjaneck (Matthew) and their sons Ryland and Cooper. He is survived by his sisters Donna Nawrocki (Franklin) and Janet Marchetta (Charles), nephews and a niece. He was preceded in death by his parents Ruth and Ward Gerdelman.

A visitation will be held Wednesday, January 15th from 5-7 PM at Bucktrout Funeral Home in Williamsburg, VA.  A funeral service and reception will be held Thursday, January 16th at 1 PM at St. Bede Catholic Church (3686 Ironbound Road, Williamsburg).  John will be laid to rest in a private ceremony in the William & Mary Memorial Garden.

Donations may be made in John’s memory to the “John W. Gerdelman Scholarship Endowment.” Please make checks payable to the William & Mary Foundation and mail to William & Mary, Gift Accounting, P.O. Box 1693, Williamsburg, VA  23187. To make an online gift, please visit https://impact.wm.edu/jwgerdelman.


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  • January 08, 2020
    Darlene and Rich Parke says:
    Dear Sue, Emily and Mark and family. Sending our prayers and condolences. Our thoughts are with all of you at this time.

  • January 08, 2020
    Joe Frey says:
    Mrs. G, Mark and Emily - I am so sorry to hear of the passing of your husband and father. I think back to my younger years of babysitting for you, listening to his Springsteen albums when you both had gone to bed. And then of course John gave me the summer job opportunity at Baxter, first as the groundskeeper and then working in the warehouse, which basically paid for all of my college activities at CU. And I would be remiss in saying that I think he had a huge influence in the hiring decision at PTT in Greeley as my first job after college. He is fondly remembered by me as a kind and loving man, with a hearty laugh and a great smile. Integrity was his namesake, and I very much appreciated this about him, along with multiple other positive and wonderful attributes. Love you all - take care and may God be with all of you as well as John - Joe(y)

  • January 09, 2020
    Linda Johnson says:
    My privilege to have been John’s Hospice nurse. Wonderful attentive family. An accomplished and kind gentleman. God bless you all.

  • January 09, 2020
    Stephanie South says:
    John was an energizing leader and great visionary. I enjoyed being on his team at MCI. He will be remembered fondly by many. My condolences to the family during this difficult time.

  • January 09, 2020
    Julie Massicotte says:
    I worked with John while at MCI many years ago. No matter what position you were in John always spoke to you with respect and kindness. He was a gentleman and always positive no matter what he was doing. John did a great job during his time on this earth..Rest In Peace John