Jess was born in Seattle, Washington on January 1, 1917. (Birth date was taken from his military draft card). The family moved to Van Nuys, California where Jess grew up. His father Thomas, was born in 1888 and was a very good musician. He played with the famous John Philip Sousa band. In 1904 he enlisted in the Army in the infantry and was discharged in 1905 at the age of 21 years old.
Jess followed in his fathers footsteps and was also a musician and played the trumpet. Jess worked at the Vega Aircraft Corp. In 1942 he registered for the military draft and entered the U.S. Navy. The records show that in 1944 Jess was a Musician 3rd Class Petty officer. Jess attended the Instrument Repair School in Washingto D.C. He served for three years during WW2 before being discharged. He decided to rejoin the Navy and served for a total of twenty years.
Jess had an older brother named Thomas Jr. Jess married Zola and they had a daughter named Victoria.
Jess lived in Port Hueneme, California and joined the Oxnard Joslyn Lawn Bowls Club on August 25, 1989. His wife joined later on October 31, 1989. They became excellent bowlers. Jess served as Club President in 1991, also Tournament Chairman and A.L.B.A. delegate for the club. (A.L.B.A. later became BowlsUSA). Jess was chosen as an Honorary Member of the club. For those who knew Jess, said that he was a very nice guy that was always friendly and helpful. Always willing to give helpful pointers to improve a members bowling.
Jess Sportelli with two of his cousins