Jan. 16, 1947 – Nov. 27, 2013
Cynthia Ann Sielski, an attorney as well as a coach and judge who worked with many young gymnasts in Western New York over more than four decades, died Wednesday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, after a two-year struggle with cancer. She was 66.
An Orchard Park resident, Mrs. Sielski had been a gymnastics professional most of her life.
For some 45 years, gymnastics was also her career.
Mrs. Sielski began participating in gymnastics classes as a child in Buffalo, in a gym on High Street – which is where she met her husband, Peter L. Sielski.
She was a gymnast for about a decade – best on the floor exercise, family members recalled – and then moved into roles as a coach and judge for gymnastics meets.
In the 1970s, Sielski opened a gymnastics business, Gleason’s, with her husband and her sister, Kathy Gleason, who was on the 1968 U.S. Olympic team in gymnastics. The gym operated briefly on Delaware Avenue and at Nardin Academy, then moved to a location on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Wheatfield where it is still located today.
Mrs. Sielski was a former regional technical chairwoman for the U.S. Gymnastics Federation, as well as former state chairwoman for USA Gymnastics. She was also active in Section VI high school gymnastics for young women for more than 40 years.
Though she sold Gleason’s to a new owner in the 1980s, Mrs. Sielski continued to judge and teach at other gymnastics facilities in the area, most recently at Gymnastics Unlimited in Orchard Park.
She was active in the sport until her death, her husband said.
“She touched thousands of lives, between judging and coaching,” said Peter Sielski.
Her other interests included training others to be judges in gymnastics.
The former Cynthia Gleason was a Buffalo native who grew up on the West Side and attended public schools in the city. She graduated from Bennett High School in 1965.
Mrs. Sielski graduated from Buffalo State College with a degree in history and political science in 1969. She attended law school at the University at Buffalo, where she graduated in 1976.
She married Peter Sielski in 1969, and the couple lived in Buffalo and the Northtowns before settling in Orchard Park. They had one daughter, Jenna, who died in an accident in 2009.
Mrs. Sielski worked for the past five years as a tax attorney with the Cheektowaga firm George L. Sielski. Earlier in her career, she practiced law as a volunteer with the Prisoner Release Program in Buffalo, and she also had her own law practice in Buffalo.
Besides her husband of 44 years, she is survived by her sister, Kathy.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today in Protocol restaurant on Transit Road, Amherst.