John Y. Dovjak (90) left this earth February 6, 2024 surrounded by his two daughters who fiercely took care of him during his last days. Born June 21, 1933 in West Winfield, PA to John J. and Mildred Dovjak, he lived an absolute and honorable life. As his sister-in-law declared, ”Today we lost one of the kindest members of our clan. John was quiet, but then the wisest people are.”
In his formative years, John had a desire to understand how things worked and wanted nothing more than to be a television repair man. Fortunately, someone recognized his gift and told him that he should go to college to learn the science behind the repair. He earned his degree in the very first electrical engineering classes at Penn State in 1956. A career choice that brought him to Ohio where he met his wife, Delores, on a blind date at a football game at the old Akron Rubber Bowl. A whirlwind proposal and marriage due to further job opportunities followed with John asking, “I am going to California at the end of the week; wanna go with me?” The two of them ultimately settled down in Newark, OH where he worked at the Newark Air Force Base for 30 years as a Systems Engineer/Program Manager on the Minuteman and Peacekeeper Missle inertial guidance systems. While there he was recognized for his service by being nominated in 1970 for the Arthur S. Flemming Award which recognizes ten outstanding federal service employees for their unusual and outstanding work in scientific, administrative and executive fields. “The excellent working relations that exist between SAC (Strategic Air Command), AMA (Air Material Area) and SRA (Specialized Repair Activity) are in large part responsible for Minuteman repair success and likewise, the success of these working relations is in large part due to the excellence of performance of Dovjak,” the nomination reads.
John loved music and the accordion was his instrument of choice. Many a Sunday he would awaken his daughters with a rousing version of The Beer Barrel Polka or Pennsylvania Polka much to their chagrin. He had a rockin stereo system with an extensive collection of records and shared his love of big bands (Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Herb Alpert), crooners (Sinatra, Peggy Lee and a little Elvis!), Broadway showtunes and Texas Swing (Bob Wills, Asleep at the Wheel) with his daughter Diane. Growing up in Pennsylvania he even played in a band, Bob Byrd and his Boys from the Hills, and was known to help his cousin, Chester Michalski, out in a pinch at the family bar, when a last-minute musical act was needed. Viva la Accordion!
Always a tinkerer, he was referred to in the family as Mr. Wizard because he could fix anything! Radios, TV’s, you name it, he could fix it. In 1976 he even BUILT the family’s television from a Heathkit TV kit! John also had a full woodworking set up in the basement and built many pieces of furniture from desks and kitchen cabinetry to stereo speakers, lamps, bookcases, etc. He was a master gardener, avid golfer, Makers Mark bourbon enthusiast, jalapeno pepper aficionado, and an Appalachian Trail dreamer. Mexican food was his favorite meal.
Upon retirement in 1990, he volunteered at the Licking County Computer Society, teaching basic computer classes to seniors and helping with the club’s refurbishing initiative which provides low cost reconditioned computers to those in need.
He was extremely proud of both his daughters who took very different career paths (nursing and broadcasting) but emulated his kind heart, work ethic and integrity. He loved nothing more than to share, with anyone who would listen, about their lives and achievements. John and Delores were always extremely supportive in any venture their daughters wanted to pursue. Our parents never judged, just let us forge ahead to make any mistakes or successes that came with it. College educations were deemed as 4 years of learning to “think.” It didn’t matter what we did in life as long as we were happy, considerate, used common sense and while driving, “not stopping on a dime!” Of course, Dad was also very much a parent, who occasionally needed to discipline, and the infamous green paddle that lived on top of the fridge (another example of his woodworking prowess) would be used to set us on the straight and narrow.
He had a special bond with his daughter, Diane, who affectionately called him Popsicle and he was always a great sport when presented with a fake mustache and red nose.
They enjoyed many Daddy/Daughter moments at Spring Training games of his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates, as well as “Before I Die” adventures with him and Delores to Hawaii and California. Diane and John’s 4pm daily call, which started during the pandemic, will not cease due to the current circumstances, it’ll just be slightly different now that he is a guardian angel.
In their later years, John and Delores moved to the Akron area to be closer to their oldest daughter, Sharon. As Director of Nursing at their Assisted Living, her office was right across from Dad’s room and he loved to pop in for a visit “just to make sure you are ok.” He loved having his own private nurse. Sharon was a staunch advocate of Dad’s medical care and for that we are forever grateful.
John is survived by his wife of 61 years Delores (Meszaros), daughters Sharon Lann (Rick) of Tallmadge, OH, Diane Dovjak of Sarasota, FL, and grandchildren, Eric and Sarah Lann. He is preceded in death by his parents John J. and Mildred (Mechako) Dovjak, step mother Anna (Kunzel) and sister Theresa Toy.
The family would like to thank Traditions Hospice (Brent, Kia, Anthony, Beth, Melanie) for their brief but compassionate care over the past month. Not sure how we would have persevered without their support. Also, shout out to Joni, our knight in shining armor. You know what you did for our family and we will forever be eternally grateful for your guidance.
There will be no funeral or memorial service. Burial will be in Lakewood Cemetery in Akron, OH and various points of interest in Pennsylvania. In lieu of flowers, please direct any donations in John’s name to East-Central Ohio Technology Users Club aka Licking County Computer Society, P.O. Box 612, Newark, OH 43058-0612, https://ecotu.club/. Condolences may be shared with John's family online at www.heritagecremationsociety.com
Heritage Cremation & Burial Society