Tribute: Dr. John N. Cernica

Dr. John N. Cernica, 84, passed away September 14

Dr. John N. Cernica, Boardman, Ohio - obit

BOARDMAN, Ohio – A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, September 19 at 10:00 a.m., at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, officiated by the Rev. Gerald DeLucia and concelebrated by Deacon Michael Kocjancic, for Dr. John N. Cernica, 84, loving husband and father to six daughters, internationally respected engineer and scientist, author of seven college text books on engineering, accomplished business man and local philanthropist, who completed his life journey on September 14, 2016. His immortality now resides with our Heavenly Father for all eternity.

John, affectionately known as “Papa” and “JC” by those who love him, enjoyed an amazing life’s adventure.

Born on May 14, 1932, in Sibiu, Romania, his family escaped the ravages of a war torn region by crossing the Atlantic Ocean on an oil tanker in 1945. Always a curious soul, he eagerly questioned and studied with teachers, academics, ship pilots and sailors during much of the months-long voyage. His ability to imagine, create and build from the acquired knowledge resulted in a beautifully crafted ring he forged for his mother from a simple nickel coin while on this journey.

He began his American life in Campbell, where his father, John, took a job at a local bank and his mother, Mary, worked at Ohio Bell. Although unable to fully comprehend or speak English, he quickly excelled in school, becoming a top student, ultimately earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering at Youngstown College, later becoming Youngstown State University, in 1953. He was awarded an academic scholarship to further study engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned both a Master’s and a Doctorate’s Degree in Civil Engineering, finishing at the top of his class. He returned to Youngstown College where he served as chairman of the Engineering department for 17 years and professor for 48 years, retiring in 2006.

Dr. Cernica published numerous scholarly articles and seven college text books on civil engineering topics widely used at many American and international universities. His books were translated into several languages, including Spanish, Arabic and Chinese, and were used by thousands of students and engineers throughout the world.

He established Cernica Engineering in 1958, an engineering consulting business where his expertise drew consultation requests from all over the world. He was also president of Shenango Valley Sand and Gravel Mining Company and president of Earthborne Energy, a gas and oil business.

His abilities and successes led to donations of countless hours of time, expertise and money to build St. Mary’s Catholic Church and to support St. Charles Catholic Church in many project endeavors.

In 2004, Dr. John Cernica was nominated as a finalist for the Carnegie Mellon University’s Distinguished Alumni Award for his lifelong achievement and humanitarian efforts. Although numerous awards and accolades for professional achievements were bestowed upon Dr. Cernica, his greatest passion always remained his enduring love for family.

He will be lovingly remembered by his loving wife of 57 years, Mary Patricia, whom he married on July 25, 1959; six daughters, Mary Kathleen (Dr. Ronald) Dwinnells, Mary Jude Cernica, Mary Alice (Kelly) Colwell, Dr. Mary Johanna (Ian) Cernica-Midgley, Mary Patricia (Gary) Lallo, and Dr. Sarah (Keith) Reichard; 21 grandchildren; and many great friends.

Dr. Cernica was preceded in death by his parents.

“Papa” can be characterized as a man who possessed a brilliant mind yet was humble, generous and kind always helping family, friends and strangers. The boy who created a beautiful ring for his mother out of a coin became a man who taught others to master the skills of engineering in order to build a better world, the boy who spoke only broken English at the age of 13 became a top doctoral student at one of the most prestigious universities in the country and later a world-renowned author and professor, and the boy who came to this country with nothing became a successful business man and humanitarian.

Family and friends may pay their respects Sunday from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. at the Higgins-Reardon Funeral Homes, Boardman-Canfield Chapel.

Following the Mass, Dr. Cernica will be laid to rest at Resurrection Cemetery in Austintown.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, material tributes be made in Dr. Cernica’s name to Hospice House, 9803 Sharrott Road, Poland, Ohio 44514.

Dr. Cernica’s family would also like to thank the staff at Hospice House, Dr. McGowen, and their dad’s special caregivers, Robbie, Michael, Brenda, Michelle, Barb, and Patty for the compassionate care of their father.

Please visit to view this tribute and send online condolences to the Cernica family.

A television tribute will air Friday, September 16 at the following approximate times:
6:41 a.m. WYTV, 8:41 a.m. MyYTV, 9:58 a.m. on FOX, 12:25 p.m. WKBN, 6:58 p.m. on MyYTV and 10:37 p.m. FOX.

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