John J. Wojnar, retired chemist, Navy navigator, dies at 86

Oct. 5, 1928 – Oct. 16, 2014

John J. Wojnar, a retired chemist and Navy aircraft navigator, died Thursday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital following a long illness. He was 86.

Mr. Wojnar was born in Warrior Run, Pa., and studied chemistry at Wilkes College to obtain the requisites to become a U.S. Navy officer. In July 1946, he joined the Navy V-5 program, learning to pilot and navigate six different Navy fixed-wing aircraft. During one flight, he provided navigation for his Martin P4M Mercator on a Korean War mission over Turkey, when an oil leak forced the pilot to ditch the aircraft into the Mediterranean Sea. He was appointed a Naval Reserves commander in 1972 and retired from the reserves in 1974.

Following his full-time service, he was employed for 38 years by Occidental Petroleum in Niagara Falls, working as a research chemist and in sales administration. Mr. Wojnar also was a Boy Scout troop leader.

Mr. Wojnar was an active member of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church. He was a longtime board member of the Parish Council, also serving as treasurer, and was a eucharistic minister and instrumental in the success of the church’s food pantry. His service with the St. Vincent De Paul Society earned him the Ad Altere Dei Award as volunteer of the year.

After his diagnosis with Parkinson’s disease, he took part in programs through the WNY Parkinson’s Association, joining exercise programs and support groups, and making new friends who were also afflicted with the disease and encouraging them. He most recently was a resident of Elderwood Health Care at Oakwood in Williamsville.

Mr. Wojnar is survived by his wife of 60 years, Lillian; his daughter, Susan Baird; two sons, John and Rob; his brother, Leo; and five grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:15 a.m. Wednesday in St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, 885 Sweet Home Road, Amherst.

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John J. Wojnar, retired chemist, Navy navigator, dies at 86
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