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Paul V. Pietrzak, author of railroad histories

Aug. 29, 1936 – Sept. 25, 2015

Paul Vincent Pietrzak, a Bethlehem Steel retiree whose passion for railroads and history led him to write five books, died Friday in his Hamburg home after a short illness. He was 79.

Born in Buffalo, he was a 1954 graduate of Buffalo Technical High School, attended Alfred State College and served in the Army.

Mr. Pietrzak had a 40-year career as a field engineer with Bethlehem Steel in the Engineering, Mechanical and Reclamation departments, but he was best known for his interest in railroads.

He wrote five books about rail lines that once served Western New York and Northwest Pennsylvania. A member of the Western New York Railway Historical Society and Locomotive Historical Society, he began a newsletter, Key Lock & Lantern, in the early 1970s that became a national magazine.

In addition to collecting rail memorabilia, he collected historical photos and donated a number of them to the Steel Plant Museum of Western New York.

His interest in history also extended to antiques. He was a member of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, which honored him with a fellowship. He was president of the local NAWCC chapter in the early 1990s.

Mr. Pietrzak also was active in Hamburg village affairs. He was involved with Imagine Hamburg and was one of the organizers of the Hamburg Garden Walks. He also held a position with the Hamburg Historical Preservation Commission.

He was a member of St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church, where he was a eucharistic minister, served on the Adult Enrichment Committee and taught religious education classes.

He enjoyed traveling and took numerous trips to Europe. He also visited China and Outer Mongolia.

A theater buff, he also held season tickets to theaters in Buffalo and Canada.

His wife, the former Mary C. O’Neill, died in 2002.

Survivors include two daughters, Jean Krencik and Ann Redanz; two sons, Vincent and Thomas; two brothers, Carl and D. Peter; a companion, Mary Anne Neary; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Nov. 7 in St. Bernadette’s Church, 5930 S. Abbott Road, Orchard Park.

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