Oct. 14, 1939 – Aug. 23, 2018
Gregory J. Hejmanowski, of Orange Park, Fla., a school principal who led Buffalo’s West Hertel Academy to a national award, died Aug. 23 in Baptist Medical Center, Jacksonville, Fla., after a decadelong battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 78.
Born in Buffalo, he was a graduate of South Park High School. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in school administration from the University at Buffalo.
Known to many as Gregg, he began his 36-year career teaching social studies and mathematics in the Buffalo schools. After a year as assistant principal of West Hertel Academy, he was named principal of School 75 in 1973. Two years later, he became principal of School 18 and returned to West Hertel Academy in 1979 as principal.
During his tenure, West Hertel was named a School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education. He was especially proud of the school’s annual “Read-a-Thon,” for which faculty and staff would dress as characters in the books the students were reading.
Named Buffalo’s first supervising principal for elementary schools when the position was created in 1985, Mr. Hejmanowski oversaw other school administrators for five years and served briefly as acting assistant superintendent for elementary education.
Wanting to work more closely again with students, he returned to West Hertel Academy as principal in 1990, retiring in 1995.
He was a member of the board of trustees of the Elementary Principals Association and negotiated contracts on their behalf. He served on committees to develop city, state and nationwide standards in math, drug prevention and middle school education.
He also served on the Federal Proposal Development Committee for the Emergency School Aid Act, which assisted school districts in desegregation.
A resident of Grand Island until 2014, he was appointed to the Grand Island Board of Education three times when a member resigned or retired, twice in 1996. Each time he declined to run for a full term.
Survivors include his wife of 48 years, the former Mary Ann DiGiacomo; two sons, Dr. Christopher and Judge David; a brother, Conrad; a sister, Sandra; and six grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, in St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, 2100 Baseline Road, Grand Island.