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Michael Petko, 96, master furniture builder Aug. 16, 1915 -- May 28, 2012

Michael Petko, a master furniture builder and World War II veteran, died Monday in his Williamsville home under hospice care after a short illness. He was 96.

Born in Buffalo, he grew up in Black Rock and held a variety of jobs as a boy to help support his mother and three siblings after his father died. He began his own paper route at age 10 and as a teen hitchhiked to Transit Valley Country Club to work as a caddy.

A 1933 graduate of McKinley Vocational High School, he began working the following year for Artistic Furniture Co. in the Town of Tonawanda.

He joined the Navy Seabees in 1943 and served in the Pacific, taking part in the invasions of the Admiralty Islands and Okinawa. His photography skills earned him assignment as a Navy photographer. He received the New York State Conspicuous Service Cross.

Returning from service, Mr. Petko went on to a 30-year career at Artistic Furniture. He then worked for 14 years as a cabinet builder for the Williamsville Central School District. He retired in 1983.

He was a member of St. Pius X Catholic Church in Getzville.

His wife of 55 years, Mary Medaj Petko, died in 1998.

He is survived by a son, Michael T.; a daughter, Pamela A. Petko-Seus; and a sister, Helen Vitalis.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Pius X Church, 1700 North French Road, Getzville.