PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO - John lived fully for 71 years. He passed on June 28, 2020, in his seaside home near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico with loving family and friends by his side. He fought a brief yet courageous battle with lung cancer during which he never gave up.
John’s childhood years were delightfully precocious, with his adventures beginning in and around the seaside city of Gdansk, Poland where he was born on April 9, 1949, to Emilia Grzywacz and the late Boleslaw Grzywacz. When John emigrated to Utica, NY at age 11 in 1960 with his parents and sisters, it was quite the occasion as his mother Emilia had not seen her father (John’s grandfather) for 21 years after being separated in Poland during World War II. On November 12, 1960, the Utica Observer-Dispatch published an article about the reunion.
John worked hard and played hard through his teen years with the music of The Beatles on his fingers as he self-learned the guitar, which he strummed his entire lifetime. He graduated high school from Utica Free Academy (UFA), attended Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland (he was proud Copernicus studied there as well), and was a graduate of Buffalo University. In his 20’s, John played soccer for the Polonia team in the Utica area, and watching soccer was a lifelong pleasure. In midlife John also lived in Westfield, MA and Jonesboro, GA, before retiring to Mexico.
John made his living as a Teamster truck driver, with an impeccable safety record over millions of miles driven. He was also briefly a U.S. Customs Officer before retirement, physically fitting right in with classmates half his age at the academy. John took great pride in tirelessly tackling big home improvement and repair projects, including grand flowering landscapes. His sons were eager helpers, and a fond memory is an extensive model railroad they built together. He particularly enjoyed rock ‘n’ roll and blues guitar music, playing in some bands with his wife Cheri as the vocalist. John was quite the dancer too. Despite often working evening hours, he faithfully attended the activities of his sons, especially their soccer games and music concerts. He also found time to take them fishing and kick the soccer ball around with them.
Born near the Baltic Sea, John always gravitated to the ocean. His last 13 years he and his wife Cheri thoroughly enjoyed life along the beautiful beaches around Puerto Vallarta and socializing with their friends. John took full advantage of the pleasures of Mexico. He became an avid beach volleyball player and frequently explored the mountains on his motorcycle, often with a close gang of friends. He became a fixture along the beach, befriending many he encountered.
John’s beloved wife Cheri (“Sweets”), and step-mother to his sons, survives him.
John is also survived by a son, Gregory and his wife, Carrie of Willington, CT and their children, Andrew, Adam, and Aniela; son Darren and wife, Sarah of Dunwoody, GA and their child Lydia. His grandchildren adored him and cherished his visits.
At the time of his passing, he was survived by his mother, Emilia, age 96, of New Hartford, NY; sister Anna Z. Hack (husband Ingolf) of Hilton Head, SC; sister Alexandra (husband Dr. N. Hakim); and nephew Ingolf C. Hack. He was proceeded in death by his father Boleslaw and nephew Jeffrey J. Hack.
John’s family extends their heartfelt gratitude to John’s best friend Orlando Corona for his extraordinary, loving care and assistance provided.
The family will honor and commemorate John’s life at a future date. He earned a special place in the heart of everyone who ever met him.
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