The reason the class would not count toward his degree, said his wife of 53 years, Rosemary Countess, was because the instructor was not an accredited professor.
The man who taught the class, the Countess family remembers with laughter was Wernher von Braun, the acknowledged "Father of Rocket Science."
That was in Huntsville, Ala., in the early 1950s where Countess, who died April 21, was raised.
Countess practiced law -- primarily municipal law and estate planning -- for 50 years in York County with CGA Law Firm, formerly known as Countess, Gilbert and Andrews.
Recently, his wife, one of his sons, Frank Countess, and his daughter, Madeline Countess, recalled his life outside the law firm and the courthouse.
Although Jon Countess loved the York area, he never surrendered his Southern roots, they said.
"He was really a Southern gentleman," Rosemary said.
In her husband's obituary, Rosemary wrote that "His grandfather ... would be thrilled that his Southern lineage had successfully invaded the North."
Frank Countess said his father, born into a hardscrabble life in the old, rural South, decided to leave his birthplace, where cows outnumbered people, after college in 1958.
Frank said he was told that his father got out a map and used a compass to draw ever increasing circles around Huntsville at 50-mile increments.
"He thought that York was ideally located," Frank said, explaining it was close to larger metropolitan areas and had both industry and agriculture.
"He thought it was exotic," Frank said.
"He was the first person in his family to graduate from college," Frank Countess continued. "He was from an area that didn't have plumbing, didn't have TV.
"He was born in 1934 in a time of, 'If you could shoot it, it was food.'"
In York County, a blind date with an Irish-Catholic schoolgirl -- Rosemary Henisse -- led to marriage.
Rosemary recalled that when they visited her husband's family she was known as "Aunt Yankee."
Jon Countess initially worked for York Borg-Warner when he came to York County but decided to try his hand at law.
"He always loved interacting with people," Frank said.
"And solving problems," Madeline said.
"Engineering was not a people profession," Rosemary said.
With the help of an influential friend, Jon Countess was conditionally admitted to Dickinson School of Law without first taking the LSAT (Law School Admission Test) and without an authorized copy of his college transcript.
"Try doing that today," Frank Countess said.
Jon Countess graduated second in his class in 1964.
Rosemary said, although her husband practiced law until illness forced him to stop in July 2013, that he practiced a less cut-throat type of law.
"It was a gentlemen's network," she said. "A handshake was all you would need.
"Today, it's all adversarial."
Madeline Countess remembers her father as "a putterer," someone who was always fixing things.
Her favorite example was the yard furniture at a beach house the family rented one summer. Her father, she said, was dissatisfied with the appearance of the furniture and painted it while on vacation.
She said her father was the type of person who, when he would come to visit, would bring his tools to repair things for her.
In his chosen field, Frank Countess said his father was, "in every aspect of his life, an acts of service person."
The family said Jon Countess was someone who was influential with young attorneys and encouraged his clients to consider charitable donations in their wills.
"I never remember him being angry, never remember him raising his voice," Rosemary said. "If everyone was like him, the world would be a better place."
Contact Rick Lee</person> at 717-495-1782.
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