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John Steven Hnilo

June 28, 1955 ~ December 25, 2018 (age 63)

John Steven Hnilo “Jack” passed away unexpectedly in the early morning of Christmas Day 2018 after a 15-month courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.  He was 63 years of age.  Jack was the second of six sons born to Dr. Joseph M. Hnilo and Elaine S. Hnilo of Lake Forest, IL and Arcata, CA.  His ebullient nature, warmth, and charm will be greatly missed by a very wide circle of family, friends, and acquaintances.  

Jack was born in San Diego, CA where his father was stationed while serving in the U.S. Navy.  Jack was a graduate of St. Mary’s School in Lake Forest and Arcata High School in Arcata.  After graduation, he fell hard for the Central Valley of California and settled there, where he was employed by the Central Coating Company of Madera, CA for his entire 44-year career.  Jack began in field operations for the company, advancing to project management and ultimately capping his career in sales, where his authoritative knowledge of all aspects of Central Coating’s business made him highly successful.  Jack took great pleasure in booking business that would keep his company’s field crews earning money.

Jack married his high school sweetheart Debbie Hnilo 37 years ago in 1981.  Together they fashioned a beautiful life at their home in Merced, CA.  Other of Jack’s passions included dogs, cats, parrots, and all manner of animal rescue as well as travels with Debbie, especially to the Caribbean.

Jack will be remembered for his generosity to all, his penchant for 4th of July fireworks, his barbecue prowess, his winter fires at home with Debbie, his larger-than-life personality, and for the love and devotion he inspired among his many friends and family.

Jack is survived by his wife Debbie and by his brothers Joseph (Suzanne), James (Kasey), Jeffrey (Kim), Justin (Lynn), and Jerome (Karen), and by his sister- and brother-in-law, Karen and Rainer Gerbatsch.

A celebration of Jack’s life will be held at 12:00 pm on Saturday, January 26, 2018 at Lake Yosemite Fish and Gaming Building, 5714 N. Lake Rd in Merced, CA.  In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to Best Friends Animal Society at   

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