Greg Zilka Biography
Greg Zilka was born in Cleveland, Ohio. His family lived in a Slovak neighborhood in Lakewood called Birdtown where much of the social and cultural activities were focused around the Slovak parish.
Greg’s father, a factory worker at General Motors, died in 1955 and his widowed mother, Mary, with her family of eight children moved to the then farming village of Avon. Greg’s mother instilled in him a strong work ethic and the belief that difficult times could be overcome by hard work and determination.
To help with the family finances, Greg caddied at Lakewood Country Club and was the recipient of a caddy scholarship which allowed him to enroll at Kent State University. To further support his education, he worked in the University bakery and at the General Electric facility in Ravenna, Ohio. Greg graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. After graduation, Greg volunteered and served in the United States Peace Corps, where he met his wife, Patti, who was also a Peace Corps volunteer. Greg’s service and experience were assets for him in the classroom when he was hired by the Avon Lake City School district as a social studies teacher in 1971. Greg taught at Avon Lake High School for 35 years and retired in 2006.
He found his work as the advisor of the Model United Nations Club, a research and debate club, to be very rewarding. Over the 23 years of Greg’s participation as the club’s advisor, Avon Lake students took part in conferences and debates at Kent State University, Harvard University and the University of Chicago. Many of the Avon Lake students were recognized with awards for their knowledge and debate skills, successfully competing with their peers from some of the best high schools in the United States.
Greg was appointed to serve on Avon Lake City Council in 1985, and served for 26 years. He was elected by his peers to serve as President of City Council for 14 years. In 2011, Greg ran for Mayor of Avon Lake, and has been proud to serve in that position since 2012.
Greg and Patti Zilka have been married for 45 years and have two children, Hila and Alex. Hila Zilka Hritz is married to Jeff Hritz and they have three children, Gregory, Emily, and Libby. They reside in Pennsylvania. Greg and Patti’s son Alex lives in Chicago with his partner Mike Pattarozzi. Alex is a social studies teacher at New Trier High School.