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Published: Monday, 7/28/2008

Data processor, substitute teacher was zoo volunteer

John C. Hojnacki, 57, a former director of data processing for Lucas County who narrated exhibits at the Toledo Zoo and worked as a substitute teacher in Fulton County, died July 19 at his home in Wauseon.

The cause of death was a heart attack, his wife, Jill Hojnacki, said.

A native Toledoan, Mr. Hojnacki worked for the county from 1979 to 1985 when data processing divisions were forerunners to today s information technology departments.

He rose to the head of his department under former county Auditor Dan McNamara, overseeing support for computer systems throughout the county, from the machines that recorded property deeds to those that issued tax bills.

Mr. Hojnacki also was responsible for computerizing the county s vote tabulation process, which considerably sped up election night vote counting.

John was the one who designed and wrote that system when it first came out, said Marty Limmer, information services manager for the Lucas County Board of Elections, who was first hired for the county by Mr. Hojnacki

While with the county, Mr. Hojnacki met his future wife, the former Jill Droll, who also was in data processing. She recalled how the vote counting software was considered a breakthrough at the time.

He was very proud of that system, and I think he should have been, she said.

After leaving the county, Mr. Hojnacki became an independent contractor, working for the American Red Cross in Detroit, HRC Manor Care, and Owens Corning, among other organizations.

By the 1990s, the Hojnackis moved to Wauseon. Mr. Hojnacki for the last three years worked as a substitute teacher in Fulton County, primarily with the Pike-Delta-York Local School District and Delta Middle School. He taught kindergarten through high school students, with a specialty in math and science, Mrs. Hojnacki said.

In 2004, Mr. Hojnacki joined his wife as a volunteer at the Toledo Zoo. While he initially came just to help with the computers, his love for the zoo grew, and soon he was narrating exhibits throughout the zoo s grounds, in particular the shark feed exhibit, his wife said.

The zoo named the Hojnackis its 2006 Education Volunteers of the Year.

The eldest child of five boys and one girl, Mr. Hojnacki graduated from Start High School in 1969 and joined the U.S. Coast Guard. He served a total of six years as a quartermaster, and received a unit citation for writing a contingency plan for oil spills in the St. Lawrence Seaway that he later helped to implement.

In addition to an associate s degree in computer science from Owens Community College, Mr. Hojnacki in 1992 received a bachelor s degree in business administration from Lourdes College.

Mr. Hojnacki was an avid runner during the 1970s and early 1980s, participating in marathons and ultra-marathons. In more recent years, he and his wife went scuba diving, traveling throughout the world including Australia and the coast of Africa.

Surviving are his wife, Jill Hojnacki, whom he married July 30, 1982; mother, Kathleen Hojnacki; brothers, Wayne, Dale, Jim, and Glenn Hojnacki, and sister, Teresa Jaeger.

There will be no visitation. A memorial service will begin at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Toledo Zoo rose garden.

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