Sept. 13, 1932 – Jan. 11, 2016
Monsignor John W. Zeitler, retired pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Lake View, now St. John Paul II Parish, died Monday in Buffalo General Medical Center after a short illness. He was 83.
Born in Buffalo, he was a 1950 graduate of Bennett High School, where he was an all-city athlete in football, basketball and baseball.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Michigan State University, where he was captain of the NCAA champion baseball team. He was signed by the Detroit Tigers and played shortstop in 1954 and 1956 on Tigers farm teams in Jamestown, Valdosta, Ga.; Durham, N.C.; and Palatka, Fla. He also served in the Army during the Korean War.
He went on to earn a master’s degree in theology from Collegium Canisianum in Innsbruck, Austria; and a master’s degree in education from Canisius College.
After serving as pastor at St. Joseph Parish is Bliss in 1964-65, he became an instructor at Notre Dame High School in Batavia, and went on to serve as coach, athletic director and assistant principal there. In 1978, he was named principal of Turner-Carroll High School in Buffalo.
He went on to become parochial vicar for Blessed Sacrament Church in 1980, then served as campus minister at the University at Buffalo Newman Center from 1984 to 1990, when he was assigned to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He retired in 2010.
Monsignor Zeitler was dean of students at Collegium Canisianum, a member of the St. Francis High School Board of Education and took part in the Diocesan mentoring program.
He sang with the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and the Bavarian Singers Chorus. He also was a member of the American Legion, the Knights of Columbus in Hamburg and the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Holy Name Society.
He was inducted into the Bennett High School Sports Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni Hall of Fame, as well as the Notre Dame High School Sports Hall of Fame and the Harvard Cup Hall of Fame.
He received the Christ the King Seminary Cure de Ars Award in 2005, the St. Francis High School Father Justi Award, the Immaculata Academy Mater Christi Award and the Diocesan Youth Department’s Father Nelson Baker Award.
Survivors include a sister, Mary Ann Bourdon.
A Parish Mass will be offered at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in St. John Paul II Catholic Church, 2052 Lakeview Road, Lake View, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 a.m. Thursday in St. Joseph University Catholic Church, 3269 Main St.