June 23, 1925 – Nov. 2, 2013
Walter A. Szwajda, of Cheektowaga, a World War II veteran, musician and music store owner, died Saturday in Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Buffalo. He was 88.
Born in Buffalo, Mr. Szwajda served with the 8th Army Air Force in the European Theater during the war and gained some fame for playing the accordion.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Missouri at Kansas City Conservatory of Music.
An expert accordion player, he was known professionally as Wally Anthony, King of the Accordion. He played in many venues with his band, The Melody Masters, and had taken trumpet lessons up to age 87.
He owned Wally Szwajda Music Store & Studios on William Street in Cheektowaga for 35 years and he was known for his skill and expertise in repairing instruments – especially the accordion, as well as sales, rentals and teaching.
Mr. Szwajda was a former organist and choirmaster at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary and Corpus Christi parishes. He later served as choir director, organist and music teacher at St. Josaphat’s Parish in Cheektowaga, where he was a member of its Holy Name Society.
A former assistant music director of the Chopin Singing Society, it was through that organization that he met his second wife, Helen Bielak. In 1981, he was named Citizen of the Year by the Am-Pol Eagle newspaper.
Additional survivors include two daughters, Christine Fogle and Gloria.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in St. Josaphat’s Parish, 20 Peoria Ave., Cheektowaga.