Henry J. Wienczkowski, or “Jerry” as he was known to his family and friends was born and raised in Erie, PA. He attended Holy Trinity grade school and was a 1959 graduate of Cathedral Prep where he participated in “Golden Gloves” boxing tournaments. He then attended Gannon College where he was a member of the Pershing Rifles Drill Team. He graduated from Gannon in 1963 with a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education with a major in French and minor in Spanish.
During his school years he became a journeyman meat cutter, working with his father in a neighborhood grocery store, a trade he would continue throughout his lifetime.
Upon graduation from Gannon he accepted a position to teach French and Campbell Central School in Campbell, NY. In his five years there, 100% of his students passed the New York State Regents Exam in French, which was a great accomplishment. He started a French Club, Fencing Club, and was a class advisor on class trips to Washington D.C. He worked part-time as a security guard at several Hammondsport, NY wineries and also helped at the local grocery store. He was a Boy Scout Leader and merit badge instructor for several badges including Marksmanship, which was his favorite as he enjoyed pistol and rifle shooting as a hobby. While teaching in Campbell, he earned his Master’s Equivalent at Alfred University and East Carolina University.
In 1968, he accepted a position with the Union City School District where he would teach high school French and Spanish for the next thirty-five years, retiring in 2003. In that time, he reinstated the National Honor Society. He was asked to speak at several graduation commencements because of his caring nature and quick wit. He became affectionately known as Senor both to his students and all who came to know him. He was the yearbook advisor for more than twenty years and received its dedication on four occasions, including his final year of teaching where two of his colleagues and good friends, Ron Feketi and Malcolm Grove included this testimonial: “Most people have some knowledge of his greatness, but few are aware of the scope of his uncountable acts of love towards his students, friends, and family. His classroom agenda might include dancing and the Macarena on top of the desk, the Mexican hat dance, a lesson in the sport of fencing and sounds of guitar or accordion or marching to Allouette in the halls. He also took delight in exposing the students to new and exciting foods, including chocolate covered ants, escargot, caviar, pate de fois gras, and always, always, cookies. He would tell and entertain with his stories of growing up on Erie’s east side, as a bag man for his grandpa, his home on a New York mountaintop (with no running water), and his endless stories resulting from raising his eleven children and totally enjoying his grandchildren.”
Henry was nominated for Outstanding Secondary Teacher of the Year. As a highly respected member of the community he was often asked to speak at community functions and was selected to address the student teachers and their instructors at Edinboro University. He was recognized by the Union City School Board and Staff for his talent and dedication to his students and the district. He served on the Borough Council for several years and was a member of the Foresters, Pennsylvania State Education Association, and Moose Lodge #882. He was a member of the St. Teresa of Avila Church, serving in the capacity of CCD Religious Education Teacher, Eucharistic Minister, Lector, and Legion of Mary member.
Henry passed away on April 14, 2014, leaving behind a legacy of compassion, humor, a passion to help others, and love for his family and friends. He is survived by his wife Marge and their eleven children: Christopher, Michael, Cynthia, Charlotte, Daniel, Kathleen, Jeffrey, Jennifer, Natalie, Anthony, and Julie; their spouses, and families of 24 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild.