May 3, 1941 -- Oct. 1, 2017
In Buffalo for the summer while studying at Ohio University, John Hoskins stopped into a Twin Fair store to buy a copy of the hit TV theme, “Mr. Lucky.”
Cashing him out was another Ohio University student, Susan Smith, whose father a few years earlier had acquired Curtis Screw Co., which made machined parts for manufacturers.
They became friends and, when they returned to college, dated. After he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business education in 1963, they were married and he joined his father-in-law’s company.
He went on to become president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board.
Mr. Hoskins died Sunday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital in Amherst. He was 76.
John T. Hoskins Sr. was born May 3, 1941, in Milwaukee, Wis., the second of four boys, and his family moved frequently while he was growing up. When he was in college, they were living in Clarence.
Mr. Hoskins began at Curtis Screw in an entry-level office job.
“He was the low man on the totem pole,” his son John Jr. said. “He worked his way up through the ranks.”
In 1978, he purchased the company from his father-in-law and increased business dramatically.
"He installed the quality systems required to attract the automotive business," his son said. "The company got involved with high volume jobs that you never take off the machine.”
Under his leadership, Curtis Screw won contracts with major automakers, General Motors and Ford. It opened a second plant in North Carolina and a third plant in Buffalo. In 1998, it purchased Sheldon Precision Co. in Prospect, Conn., which makes parts for medical devices and other applications.
In 1989, Mr. Hoskins stepped aside as president and continued as chief executive officer and chairman of the board.
The company sold its automotive division in 2014 to a Chicago-based company, MacLean-Fogg Component Solutions, and now is Maclean Curtis. It retained Sheldon Precision, which is now headed by his son.
Mr. Hoskins also fostered the recent growth of SUNY Buffalo State. Appointed chairman of the Buffalo State College Council by Gov. George E. Pataki in 1998, he played a prominent role in major fundraising campaigns, including the drive to build a new facility for the Burchfield Penney Art Center.
“He was a great believer in the mission of the college and dedicated an amazing amount of his time and resources to help strengthen the college," said Muriel Howard, president of Buffalo State from 1996 to 2009. "John genuinely cared about students and always made time to encourage and talk with them when he was on campus.”
He and his wife established a fellowship in the college’s art conservation program and endowed a scholarship fund for technology students. For many years, they hosted a reception on graduation day for hospitality and tourism majors and their families.
The couple received the Buffalo State College Foundation’s Leadership by Example Award in 2008 and the President’s Distinguished Service Award from the college in 2011.
They were active in Buffalo Prep, which helps underprivileged students find success in high school and college.
Mr. Hoskins served as chairman of the Millard Fillmore Health System and the Canisius College Business Advisory Council, and was president of the Precision Machined Products Association. He was a board member of the Buffalo Rotary Club, the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp. and Merchants Mutual Insurance Co.
He received many awards, including the New York State Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention, the Community Champion Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Precision Machined Products Association’s highest honor, the Frank T. McGinnis Merit Award. In 1998, he became an honorary member of Beta Gamma Sigma, the National Honor Society of Business and Management.
He was a longtime member of the Country Club of Buffalo, Buffalo Club, Orchard Park Country Club, Buffalo Yacht Club, Wanakah Country Club and Longboat Key Club. In recent years, he maintained a winter home in Florida.
An accomplished fisherman and hunter, his interests also included astronomy, photography, sailing and gardening.
“Whatever he got into as a hobby, he would take it to the expert level,” his son said.
He raced sailboats on Wednesday nights on Lake Erie and earned a Merchant Marine captain’s license. He created an extensive rose garden, took professional-grade photos and set up a 12-inch telescope, from which he trained his camera on distant galaxies.
In addition to his wife and son, survivors include a daughter, Beth Lynne; three brothers, George L. “Jerry,” James and Charles; and two grandchildren.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in First Presbyterian Church, 1 Symphony Circle.