John Cihota • February 27, 2019

Master Sergeant John Edward Cihota, USAF, Retired, 78, of Pensacola, Florida, peacefully passed away on February 27, 2019, surrounded by family at his home.

Visitation will be held on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm, at Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 10650 Gulf Beach Hwy, Pensacola, Florida (32507). A funeral mass will be held immediately following the visitation on March 5 at 6:00 pm at Holy Spirit Catholic Church.

Burial will take place on Wednesday, March 6, 2019, at 2:00 pm at Barrancas National Cemetery on board Naval Air Station Pensacola. If you would like to attend the burial, attendees are encouraged to assemble no later than 12:55 pm at Pensacola Memorial Gardens and Funeral Home, 7433 Pine Forest Road, Pensacola, Florida (32526) for a 1:00pm departure and procession to Barrancas National Cemetery.

John was born in Mingo Junction, Ohio, to John and Anna Rose (Burch) Cihota on January 26, 1941. He graduated from Clairton High School in Clairton (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania. He married Katherine (Kay) Eknes on June 8, 1963, in San Angelo, Texas, and had two sons (John Jr. and Jerry). They divorced in 1973. John then married Lauretta (Laurie) Zemblowski on December 22, 1978, in Pensacola and had two daughters (Natalie and Diane) and one son (Thomas). John honorably served in the U.S. Air Force Security Service for 20 years and was stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base San Angelo, Texas; Karamursel Air Force Base, Turkey; Darmstadt Army Base, (West) Germany; Iraklion Air Station Crete, Greece; and Pensacola. He retired in 1979 at the rank of Master Sergeant.

Following his service in the Air Force, John stayed in Pensacola and worked in telecommunications for the U.S. Department of the Navy and Electronic Data Systems (EDS). He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of West Florida and master’s degree from Troy (State) University. He proudly served on the Pen Air Federal Credit Union Board of Directors for more than 30 years, including several years as chairman. He enjoyed being part of the Pen Air Federal Credit Union family.

John lived a full life. He enjoyed traveling and spending time at the beach with family and friends, babysitting his grandkids,cheering for the Steelers, coaching sports, working on his 1966 Chevy Impala convertible, attending military service and high school reunions, meeting the Saufley crew at weekly lunches, and walking Baxter daily around the neighborhood. Most of all, he cherished the time he spent with Laurie, his best friend and bride of 40 years. John will be remembered for his selfless service to others; his warm and loving personality; and his great love for God, family, friends, and country.

John is preceded in death by his father, John, and mother, Anna Rose Cihota; stepmother Mary (Ferko) Cihota; sisters Patricia (Cihota) Bellis and Sister Jean Marie Cihota, O.S.B.M; and father-in-law Waclaw Zemblowski.

John is survived by his wife Laurie; mother-in-law Antonietta Zemblowski; children John Edward (Maria) Cihota Jr., Jerry Paul Cihota, Natalie Anne (Ryan) Heitman, Diane Lynn (Curt) Cashour, and Thomas John (Kristy) Cihota; sister Mary Lynn (Joseph) Rebholz; stepsister Rita (Patrick) Joyce; grandchildren Kelsey Marie Cihota, Kathleen Anne Cihota, John Edward Cihota III, Mikayla Rae Davis, Zachary Paul Cihota, Jack Andrew Cihota, Noah Sloan Heitman, Olivia Irene Heitman, Carter Thomas Cihota, Finley Rose Heitman, Gracelynn Anne Heitman, and Charlotte Marie Cihota; nephews Brian (Catherine) Rebholz, Jason (Kate) Rebholz, Jesse (Emily) Joyce, and Matthew (Victoria) Joyce; and niece Annette Rebholz.

We are all proud to have such a wonderful, caring husband, father, brother, grandfather, and uncle. We love and will miss him very much!

Pallbearers will be John Cihota Jr., Jerry Cihota, Thomas Cihota, Ryan Heitman, Curt Cashour, John Cihota III, Brian Rebholz, and Jason Rebholz. Honorary pall bearers will be Zachary Cihota, Jack Cihota, Noah Heitman, and Carter Cihota.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in John’s name to the Sisters of the Order of St. Basil the Great, Mount St. Macrina, Uniontown, Pennsylvania (, who have been so dear to the Cihotas over the years. The family wishes to extend their sincere thanks to the doctors, nurses, and staff at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences at Little Rock; the wonderful employees at Pen Air Federal Credit Union; and his friends from over the years.

  1. Mary Stewart says:

    I loved getting to see Mr Cihota when he came to town to see Diane, or when I had the chance to visit the Cihotas in Pensacola. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile that lit up his entire face. Mischievous, caring, generous—a wonderful person. He was clearly a man who adored life and loved his people fiercely. My heart breaks for all who grieve him but rejoices for them as well—as they had the good luck to bask in his affections and grow by his example. Sending so much love to you all.

  2. Nancy Fogel says:

    My deepest condolences to all of you. John was a pleasure to work with at Pen Air. My 11+ years in Administration were enjoyable and it was a pleasure to work with him and all the other Board of Directors. My prayer is that God will comfort all of you and may you feel His peace, love and strength as you go through the days, months and years ahead.

  3. Kent Eknes says:

    I enjoyed knowing John for many years from my teen years till now. He was a good friend and was good to John, Jerry, & Diane. We will all miss him.
    Love and prayers, Kent and Judy Eknes

  4. Kent Eknes says:

    We communicated this through email for many years. I know he loved his family greatly.

  5. Wanda Tyus says:

    So sorry to hear if your loss. John was truly an asset to the Pen Air Board & will be greatly missed!

  6. Janice Connelly says:

    Knowing John and his family for many years and fondly remembering all our travels and fun times makes me feel joyful and thankful to have made these memories with John and his family. I and my family will always cherish these memories of John’s kindness and warm heart and his contagious laugh. Welcome Home, John. You will be missed very much. My prayers and love to the Cihota family.

  7. Londa and Art Hershberger says:

    Dear Laurie and family,
    Art and I send our condolences and prayers for you and for all the family at this time of great loss. You and my sister, Janice were such good friends through the years, and it is through her that we knew what a kind and dear man John was. We enjoyed spending time with your family, personally on a few occasions, in particular, a crawfish boil and a Mardi Gras celebration to name two. We pray that you will find God’s peace and many wonderful memories to comfort you, but especially comfort in knowing where John is today… with God! God bless you all!

  8. NSSF says:

    To Diane and family,

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. All our sympathy.

    Your friends & work family at NSSF

  9. Robert & Trena says:

    Dear Laurie,
    Robert and I send our love and prayers to you and your family. Thanks to my sister Janice, we had the pleasure of knowing what a special man John was, so loving with his family and such a fun person to be around. He will be so missed. What a treasure to have known him, if only through our occasional family get togethers and our fun Mardi Gras adventures. God Bless all of you.

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