Jerry Peter Hontas
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91, a Canton, Ohio area trial attorney whose practice of law spanned the second half of the 20th century, passed away peacefully in Florida on Wednesday, July 17, 2013.
He was born Feb. 13, 1922, in his home on Hazlett Avenue, the second son of Peter and Katina Hontas. Having been introduced to sports as a boy (he witnessed the great Cy Young pitch an exhibition game at the Stark County Fairgrounds), he excelled in basketball at McKinley High School. Academically, he was an outstanding debater, and was selected to give the student address at the dedication of Fawcett Stadium, where the NFL Hall of Fame game is annually played. He remained a lifelong supporter of the McKinley Bulldogs. Following high school graduation in 1939, he attended Randolph-Macon College and Ohio State University. His studies, however, were interrupted by World War II. As part of the Greatest Generation, he served in the Army; initially with the Military Police, and then overseas with the 120th Medical Evacuation Units of the 3rd Army. In this capacity, his unit had a central role in the caring of the survivors of the liberated concentration camp at the infamous Buchenwald. This event would play an important part in his later years when he was invited to speak of his experiences at events that memorialized the Holocaust in the United States, Germany, and Israel. Following the war, he returned to Canton where he served as Clerk of Courts during the day, and attended William McKinley Law School at night. It was during this time that he met and married the love of his life, Norma Gail Bankhurst, who preceded him in death in 1990, after 43 loving years of marriage. In 1947, he began a career in law that continued actively for 52 years. During this time, he served multiple terms as President of the Stark County Trial Lawyers Association. Following his retirement in 1999, he moved to Boca Raton, Florida, where he continued to lead an active life at an energy level that was a constant source of amazement to his family. He had a thirst for travel, and was able to experience some of the most interesting and exotic places in the world, while at the same time kept his golf game sharp enough to win club championships in three states. His highest priority, first and foremost, was always his family. He embraced his roles as husband, father, and Papou' (grandfather). An inspirational role model, he will be sorely missed. His life epitomized the ancient Greek ideal of balance in mind, body, and spirit.
Besides his parents and wife, Norma, he was preceded in death by his brother, James. He is lovingly remembered by his children, Jerry Peter Hontas, Jr., (Teri) of Lee, Mass., Dr. Mark James Hontas (Beverly) of Mandeville, La., Katina Hontas Garcia (Jorge) of Boca Raton, Fla., and Dr. Roch Brian Hontas (Janice) of Mandeville, La.; his grandchildren, Angela Hontas, Samantha Hontas, Alexander Garcia, Alexandra Hontas, Peter Hontas, and Sasha Muzzarelli; and many nieces and nephews. The family would like to acknowledge the selfless and loving care given by daughter, Katina that gave him such comfort and peace during his final days.
Services will be held Tuesday, July 23, 2013, at 11 a.m. at St. Haralambos Greek Orthodox Church in Canton, Ohio, with Rev. Dr. Nicholas Gamvas officiating. A Christian burial will be in St. John's Cemetery in Canton, Ohio. Friends may call on Monday, July 22, 2013, from 5-7 p.m. at the Lamiell Funeral Home and on Tuesday, July 23, 2013 from 10-11 a.m. at the church. There will be a Trisagion service on Monday, July 22, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the funeral home. The family suggests donations be made to the Hospice of Palm Beach County, Fla. or the Norma Gail Hontas Memorial Fund at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Canton, Ohio. Condolences may be made to:
Lamiell Funeral Home
1353 Cleveland Ave. NW Canton, OH 44703
Published in The Repository on July 21, 2013