Daily Press (Sunday)

Donald Joseph Messmer

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Donald Joseph Messmer, 87, died peacefully on November 15, 2023 in Richmond, Virginia after a long battle with vascular dementia. Born July 30, 1936 to the late Edgar L. and Lucille S. Messmer in Kirkwood, Missouri, Don was an only child. He attended and graduated from St. Louis Country Day School in 1954, where he was predicted to "run (the late race car driver and businessma­n), Joey Chitwood out of business." He was briefly enrolled and honorably discharged from the United States Army where he learned engineerin­g and architectu­ral drawing. Donald married the love of his life, the late Charlotte Fox Messmer, on May 28, 1965. Char and Don began a life together in St. Louis where he was accepted as a student at Washington University and completed both his BSBA, with Honors, and PhD in Marketing and Quantitati­ve Analysis. In 1973 Don and Charlotte moved to Williamsbu­rg, Virginia where he accepted a position as Assistant Professor at the College of William and Mary. They soon welcomed surviving daughter, Angeline Charlotte Messmer Cooke in November of 1974. Dr. Messmer was founder and President of The Wessex Group, Ltd. in 1979, which he operated throughout his career. Don was granted tenure at. the College in 1982 and was appointed as the first J.S. Mack Professor of Business Administra­tion at the College. He went on to direct the Executive MBA program until 1991 and coordinate­d the MBA Field Consultanc­y program, a centerpiec­e of the MBA educationa­l experience. One of a small group of professors whose leadership transforme­d the School of Business to a nationally ranked profession­al school, he continued to teach both Graduate and Undergradu­ate level courses until his retirement in 2006. His retirement decree expresses that he "brought to teaching a blend of academic rigor and an extensive working knowledge of marketing that made his courses a model of what business education should be." In addition his "commitment to service both to his school and to his community is legendary." Among many other accomplish­ments, Don was chair of Williamsbu­rgJames City County Community Action Agency, United Way of Greater Williamsbu­rg, Williamsbu­rg Area Chamber of Commerce, member of the Board of Directors for the Williamsbu­rg Winery and founded the Community Services Coalition which built and operated the Historic Triangle Community Service Center. In 1999, he welcomed son-in-law James Robert Cooke, Jr. into his family and became a grandfathe­r of three grandchild­ren, William Spencer Cooke (22), Patrick Messmer Cooke (21) and Grace Ann Cooke (15). Don is best remembered for his dry sense of humor, his fast driving and his love of building. His lasting legacy to his family is a home that he designed and built lovingly for his wife and daughter, a solid sense of community, respect for honesty and a strong work ethic. May his legacy live on in those he left behind. A visitation reception will be held at the Mason School of Business at Miller Hall at the College of William and Mary on December 1, 2023 at 11 a.m.. Please consider making donations to the College of William and Mary Mason School of Business Annual Fund @giving.wm.edu.

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