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Gerald J. Kucharski, longtime coach for youth sports

July 5, 1945 – Dec. 20, 2016

Gerald J. Kucharski, of Buffalo, who had a lengthy career in the food industry and as a coach in youth sports leagues, died Tuesday in Sisters Hospital after a long illness. He was 71.

Born in Buffalo, he was a graduate of Emerson Vocational High School, where he played on the baseball, football and basketball teams. A pitcher, he was invited to try out with the New York Yankees.

Mr. Kucharski became a produce manager at grocery stores, first for Acme Markets, then for Bells supermarkets, winning an award from the Apple Growers of Western New York. He went on to be manager of F. B. Woods Produce at the Clinton Bailey Market until the company closed.

He then worked for Steinberg Fine Foods, Millbrook Bread, Al Cohen’s Bakery and Bon Ton Potato Chips, earning several Salesman of the Year awards. For a few years, he also had his own company, J. K. Snacks, delivering food items to locations throughout the area.

Then for 10 years he worked for Chartwells Food Service at Medaille College, where he oversaw the snack bar at the college’s Amherst campus and was its only manager until it closed last year. He was honored with Chartwells’ Employee of Excellence Award.

Known as “Jerry” and “Coach K,” he organized and led teams in youth sports throughout the area. He served as softball coach at Hilbert College and basketball coach at Villa Maria Academy.

In addition, he coached Cheektowaga Classics baseball, Scajaquada Little League baseball, Muny A baseball, American Legion baseball, AAA-BA baseball and Erie County Women’s Fast-Pitch softball.

He also was a CYO youth leader and organized baseball and basketball teams at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church.

He was a devoted fan of the Yankees, the Boston Celtics and old-time rock ‘n roll.

Survivors include his wife of 51 years, the former Rosemary Hatch; three daughters, Michelle Blowus, Maggie Berta and Mary Clare; a son, Michael; a brother, Daniel; nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be arranged next summer.

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