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Obituary: Gregory J. Hejmanowski

Sat, Sep 22nd 2018 07:00 am
Oct. 14, 1939 - Aug. 23, 2018
Gregory Hejmanowski, 78, died on Aug. 23, 2018, at Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville, Florida, following a decade-long battle with Parkinson's disease.
Born on Oct. 14, 1939, to Conrad Hejmanowski and Eleanor Pietruzewski in Buffalo, he was a graduate of South Park High School and then earned his bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in school administration from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
His entire professional career, 36 years, was devoted to the education and well-being of the children of Buffalo. After nine years as a teacher of social studies and mathematics, he served one year as assistant principal of West Hertel Academy before being named principal of School No. 75 in 1973. Two years later he became principal of School No. 18, and in 1979 he returned to West Hertel, this time as principal. It was at West Hertel where he would spend the bulk of his career.
In 1985, the district created the new position of supervising principal to oversee the district's many school administrators and he was the first person to hold such a position at the elementary level. He stayed at the downtown district office for five years, during which time he briefly served as acting assistant superintendent for elementary education.
In 1990, he determined that his commitment to the education of youth required him to be in a school building directly working with students, and returned for a second stay as principal at West Hertel Academy, where he remained until his retirement in 1995. Under his direction, West Hertel was named a 'School of Excellence' by the United States Department of Education. One particular source of pride was the school's annual "Read-a-thon," in which faculty and staff would dress as characters consistent with that year's theme - "The Wizard of Oz," "Star Wars," "The Muppets" - and the students would read thousands upon thousands of books in advance of the event.
During his career, he was a member of the board of trustees of the Elementary Principals Association, negotiated contracts on behalf of that organization, and served on committees to develop city, state and national curricula in mathematics, drug prevention and middle school education. He served on the Federal Proposal Development Committee for the Emergency School Aid Act, the first federal act to assist local school districts in desegregation.
On two separate occasions he was appointed to the Board of Education for the Grand Island Central School District, where he resided, to assist that board when a member resigned or retired. In each instance, he declined to stand for election, believing that his responsibilities as a principal and administrator conflicted with the political process that a school board election would entail.
He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Mary Ann Hejmanowski (née DiGiacomo), sons Dr. Christopher Hejmanowski (Dr. Tracy Hejmanowski) of Orange Park, Florida, and Judge David Hejmanowski (Dr. Ashley Hejmanowski) of Delaware, Ohio, and his six grandchildren: Grace, Catherine, Callan, Liam, Nicholas and Will, whom he loved and adored every moment of their lives, as well as his brother Conrad Hejmanowski (late, Geraldine) of Lancaster, his sister Sandra (Thomas Becker) of New Bern, North Carolina, and sister-in-law Petrina DiGiacomo (late Pat) of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, along with many loving nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Robert.
The family would welcome friends and relatives at the Amigone Funeral Home, 2600 Sheridan Drive, Tonawanda, from 4-8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 28, and at a mass of Christian burial at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, at St. Stephen R.C. Church, 2100 Baseline Road, Grand Island.
A lover of life, an avid reader, and a man of quick wit and boundless humor, he would wish that his friends and family celebrate his life with laughter, love and lively conversation. In lieu of flowers, the family would ask that donations be made in his honor to the Mayo Clinic Development Office, 4500 San Pablo Road, Jacksonville, FL 32224, designated for Parkinson's Disease research, so that those funds may be used for research and clinical trials to improve the lives of future Parkinson's patients.

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