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John Rissler Messer was born on May 26, 1941 at Tisdale, Saskatchewan to William Frederick and Margaret Elizabeth(Rissler) Messer. He received his primary education in Tisdale and attended high school in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Messer worked in real estate in Vancouver before attending the University of British Columbia and University of Saskatchewan. He established a farm near Tisdale and was active in the local community. He served as secretary of the Tisdale Wheat Pool Committee and director of the Evington Rural Telephone Company.
Messer was first elected to the Saskatchewan Legislature in 1967 and served as a New Democratic Party (NDP)member for Kelsey (1967-1971), Tisdale-Kelsey 1971-1975) and Kelsey-Tisdale (1975-1980).
Messer served in the Allan Blakeney Government as Minister of Agriculture (1971-1975); Minister of Industry and Commerce (1975-1976); and Minister of Mineral Resources (1976-1980). He was Minister Responsible for numerous agencies, boards, commissions and crown corporations, including Saskatchewan Economic Development Corporation (1975-1976); Saskatchewan Power Corporation (1975-1980); Saskatchewan Trading Corporation (1975-1976); Saskatchewan Research Council (1975-1976); Saskatchewan Forest Products Corporation (1976-1980); Saskatchewan Mining Development Corporation (1976-1978); Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (1978-1980) and Saskatchewan Oil and Gas Corporation (1978-1980).
Messer resigned from Cabinet on December 16, 1980. Neal Hardy (Progressive Conservative) was elected MLA for Kelsey-Tisdale in a 1980 by-election. Messer returned to provincial politics in 1990 as provincial secretary of the Saskatchewan NDP and was active in the party's 1991 election campaign. He served as president of Saskatchewan Power Corporation (SaskPower) from 1991 to 1998, after which time he returned to Tisdale to farm. He was elected president of Ducks Unlimited Canada for 2003-2004, and served as its chairman of the Board of Directors in 2006.
Messer currently (2008) continues to reside in Tisdale and is a director for Saskatchewan on the board of directors of Ducks Unlimited Canada.
Jack Messer married Joanne Bryson on April 14, 1960. They have three children: Annette, William and Michael.