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James A. Marren lived and worked all his life within half a mile of his birthplace -- his family's candy store at 802 Elk St. -- and co-founded the Valley Community Association, which continues to serve his neighborhood.

He died died Sunday (Oct. 20, 1996) in Mercy Hospital at age 74.

Marren attended St. Stephen's School and South Park High School.

Known affectionately as "The Boss," he served 25 years on the board of directors of the association he co-founded, which today is a United Way agency providing programs for the young and old in the South Buffalo Irish neighborhood known as The Valley.

He was a Democratic committeeman for 41 years.

In 1993, Marren was grand marshal of the Valley/Old First Ward St. Patrick's Day Parade, and for the past 10 years he had played the role of St. Patrick in Buffalo's St. Patrick's Day Parade. He was a member of the United Irish-American Association, the Knights of Equity and the Irish Cultural and Folk Art Association.

Marren worked for 30 years as a clerk for the Nickel Plate and Norfolk & Western railways, retiring in 1974.

He also worked as an amateur boxing coach and promoter. Among his proteges were Erie County Sheriff Thomas F. Higgins and Joey Busch, a state Golden Gloves champion who went on to fight internationally.

"Live each day as if it were the last, but plan and dream as if you are to live forever," said a handwritten card found in his wallet, summarizing his philosophy.

Survivors include his wife, Marie Wilson Marren; two sons, James J. of Chicago and Patrick M.; three daughters, Shannon M. Kurzanski of Cheektowaga, Alain M. Marren of Hamburg and Bridget L. Marren; six grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Prayers will be said at 8:45 a.m. Thursday in Joseph K. Quinn Funeral Home, 192 Abbott Road. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 in St. Stephen's Catholic Church, 193 Elk St. Burial will be in Holy Cross Cemetery, Lackawanna. [crdnl]

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