Jozef Jankowski, businessman, instrument maker - The Buffalo News

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Jozef Jankowski, businessman, instrument maker

May 1, 1922 – May 7, 2014

Jozef Jankowski, a business owner and instrument maker, died Wednesday at his Orchard Park home after a short illness. He was 92.

Born in Poland, he was a survivor of the Holocaust and proudly served in the Polish army during World War II. He was captured at age 17 and placed in a slave labor camp.

After marrying his wife, Catharina, in 1950, they emigrated from the Netherlands to America with their young son Peter in 1955.

From the 1960s until the 1980s, he built a successful business, Jankowski Custom Kitchens, located on Broadway in Sloan. He was a skilled craftsman, having built many homes in Western New York.

In the late 1980s, he and his family moved to Port St. Lucie, Fla., where he worked for Kegel and Stilli, designing bank interiors.

In 2000, they relocated to Orchard Park. Always a hard worker, it was not unheard of for Mr. Jankowski to be on the roof fixing something even at age 90.

Fondly known as a European craftsman who really knew his art, Mr. Jankowski was also a professional instrument maker of violins and hammer dulcimers. A strong lover of music, he learned how to make and play musical instruments from his father.

Before the war, he played tsimbl on Polish radio regularly, with a repertoire that included Polish, Russian and Jewish tunes.

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, the former Catharina J. VanDePut; a son, Emil; five grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his son Peter.

A graveside service will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in Immaculate Conception Cemetery, Eden.

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