Lightkeeper’s Society Member Spotlight; Gary and Denise Jessel - Owners, Fox Real Estate

September 07, 2016

The Lightkeeper’s Society was established in 2008 to honor the outstanding commitment of annual donors like the Jessels who support healthcare at the Southern New Jersey Shore. To learn more, contact Mary McGuckin, manager of the Lightkeeper's Society, at 609-653-4657 or

Since 1986, Gary and Denise Jessel and their family have owned and operated Fox Real Estate, one of the largest summer rental and real estate companies in Ocean City.  They are also residents of Ocean City, and actively support a number of organizations in their community including Shore Medical Center, where they are generous donors and members of its Lightkeeper’s Society. Lightkeeper’s Society members are given access to a special 24/7 hotline that connects directly to a Lightkeeper Liaison, who guides them through their medical care. Lightkeeper’s Society membership gives the Jessels peace of mind, knowing that they’ll have a trusted network of support any time they or their loved ones need medical care.

The Jessels moved to Ocean City from Northeast Philadelphia in the early 1980s rather unexpectedly, after a 50-day teacher strike that fall.  It was the most serious in a string of teacher strikes that occurred in Philadelphia over the course of 11 years. With two young daughters about to start primary school, the Jessels were very concerned about the state of education in Philadelphia at the time, so they decided to move permanently to their second home at the beach they purchased a year prior.

While the Jessels were confident in the Ocean City school system, they were at first a little worried about not having convenient access to Philadelphia’s many world class hospitals. At the time, they knew little about Shore, but it wasn’t long before they discovered they had world class medical care in their new community as well.

“Shore Medical Center has some of the best doctors in South Jersey. And now, with their affiliations with the Jefferson Neuroscience Network, Penn Cardiology and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, they are even more prepared to care for you and your loved ones in the event of almost any emergency or medical need,” said Jessel.

Now in their early 40s, the Jessels’ daughters, Tricia and DJ, have their own families and are involved with the family business. The Jessels’ four grandchildren all go to Ocean City schools.

Since becoming Lightkeeper’s Society members four years ago, the Jessels have had numerous opportunities to make use of the program, and they couldn’t be happier with the service or with the medical care they received. Gary had his knee replaced at Shore, and another major surgery in 2012. Denise had serious concerns about her own health as well, but testing at Shore luckily revealed she was fine. And just this summer, one of the Jessels’ grandchildren was injured in a boating accident. Although her injuries turned out to be minor, everything stopped in their world until they knew she was going to be okay. And through it all, their Lightkeeper Liaison was there for them.

“When our granddaughter was injured, we were terrified. Our Lightkeeper Liaison not only met her at the door, but she kept us informed at every step of the way throughout the whole ordeal. We knew that our granddaughter was being well cared for,” Gary explained.

“Unfortunately, there will come a time when you will need the hospital. When that happens, knowing you have personal relationships with the Lightkeeper’s Society staff is extremely comforting. Instead of going to a big city hospital where you become just a number, at Shore you feel like you’re being cared for by friends.”

The Jessels hope that others will join them in supporting Shore Medical Center, whether it’s through Lightkeeper’s Society membership or other means of support, such as a planned gift.

“No one really thinks about supporting their local hospital until they need them.  Giving to Shore is important so that they can continue to provide you, your loved ones and our community with the best in medical technology and expertise,” says Jessel.

From small cash donations through Shore Medical Center’s annual giving programs to long-termed planned giving and estate bequests, there are a number of ways that you can join Shore Medical Center in its efforts to provide quality healthcare to those in need. Make a donation online or learn more by visiting