John M. Zavinski, Jr. of North Warren, a retired banker and community leader, passed away Sunday afternoon, July 12, 2020, in UPMC Hamot, Erie, PA., after a brief illness. He was 85. John was born Aug. 13, 1934, in Warren to the late John and Mary Toplovich Zavinski, Sr. He. Grew up on Ross Hill near Torpedo and was valedictorian of the Tidioute High School Class of 1952. After high school, he took a job as a messenger for Warren National Bank. That led to a 43-year career with Warren National and its successors, Marine Bank and PNC Bank, ending with retirement from PNC in 1996 as vice president and McKean County area manager in Bradford. In between, he served the bank as director of public relations and advertising, assistant cashier, assistant vice president and vice president and manager at the East Side office in Warren. As that branch’s manager for about two decades, he was a personal banker long before that marketing term was coined. John married the former Sylvia G. Johnson of Warren on March 2, 1957, in St. John’s Catholic Church in Tidioute. They had met during the March 1956 flood when John was sent to help as a teller at the bank’s East Side branch, where Sylvia was a teller. Business was slow, so they had a lot of time to talk. They became engaged about eight months later. He worked his way up to bank vice president without a college degree. He completed training and certificate programs at Northwestern University School of Public Relations, the Pennsylvania Bankers Association School of Banking at Bucknell University, the Stonier Graduate School of Banking at Rutgers University, the American Institute of Banking and Penn State University. After retiring from PNC Bank in 1996, John served as district representative in Warren for U.S. Rep. Bill clinger for a year then was a congressional liaison field representative for the Federal Emergency Management Agency for three years. He was elected to one term as a Republican Warren County commissioner from 2000-2004. In recent years, he served two five-year terms as chairman of the Warren County Redevelopment Authority and had been the facilitator for the Warren County Council of Governments. An amateur archaeologist, John was a field associate of the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, was a founding member of the Kinzua Chapter of the Society for Pennsylvania Archaeology and a former state officer. He took part in archaeologist digs in the Kinzua Valley in the summers while the Kinzua Dam was being built and at rock shelters and other area sites. He often could be found looking for artifacts by walking the shores when the reservoir was low or in freshly plowed field after a good rain. He presented countless slideshow talks on archaeology to local clubs and at state conferences and helped the local society publish journals with their findings. John gave the address twice for the annual 3 Flags-raising ceremony in Warren and was a Tidioute High School commencement speaker. He previously was active in the Lions Club, Elks Lodge and the Knights of Columbus in Warren, the Tidioute Alumni Association and was a member of the Moose Lodge. After high school and during the early years of his marriage, John was active in Warren Players Club. He directed one play, acted in a few others, and served as the organization’s treasurer.
John was a past president of the Warren Area Personnel Association and a past board member of the Warren County Chamber of Commerce, United Way of Warren County, Salvation Army, the Warren County TB and Health Society, and the East Side Business Association. He served as treasurer of the Warren Library Association and the Warren County Historical Society. He was a longtime blood donor, attaining the 24-gallon mark. John was an avid reader who enjoyed hunting, fishing, photography and, after retirement, golfing. Few visitors to the house could leave without hearing reports of the latest backyard wildlife sightings. He was of the Catholic faith and served in the Marine Corps Reserve from 1955-59.
John is survived by his wife of 63 years, Sylvia, at home; two sons, John M. Zavinski and his companion, Marsha Hunt, Hermitage, PA., and Scott A. Zavinski and his wife, Cassia, Glen Allen, Va., three grandchildren to whom he was Papa J, Katie (Andy) Prettyman, Kristy (Andy) Hanks and Kyle Zavinski, all of Warren, two great-grandchildren, Adrya Prettyman and Drew Hanks, four siblings, Marian (Clair) Beardsley, Paul (Ruth) Zavinski, Kathy (Craig) Briggs, and Jim (Frankie) Zavinski, all of Warren; and many nieces and nephews. Besides his parents, John was preceded in death by a son, James M. Zavinski, in 2005, a daughter-in-law, Cindy Wykoff Zavinski; a brother, Mike; a sister, Louise; and sisters-in-law Carol Wasielewski and Kay Zavinski.
Friends may call at the Donald E. Lewis Funeral Home, Inc., 304 East Street, Warren, PA. on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 from 4 to 7 P.M. where members of the Warren Elks Lodge will conduct their funeral ritual Wednesday at 6:45 P.M. A funeral service will be conducted there on Thursday, July 16, 2020 at 11:00 A.M. with family friend, Rev. Ralph Culp, Pastor of Covenant United Methodist Church, officiating. Interment will be in St. Joseph R.C. Cemetery, Warren, PA. The family suggest memorial contributions to the Warren Public Library Association, 205 Market Street, Warren, PA. 16365 or Warren County Historical Society, 210 Fourth Avenue, Warren, PA. 16365 or Paws Along the River, 212 Elm Street, Warren, PA. 16365.
E-mail condolences may be sent by visiting www.lewisfuneralhomeinc.com