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Sandra J. LaFratta, skin-care specialist and salon owner

April 27, 1944 - May 3, 2017

Sandra J. LaFratta was passionate about skin care.

As a representative for Amber Products, she talked about the importance of taking care of one's skin in salons and during an appearance on the "Gail King Show."

She also gave talks as a keynote speaker at beauty conventions and trained other estheticians at high-end spas around the world.

Mrs. LaFratta died  of cancer May 3 in Hospice Buffalo, Cheektowaga. She was 73.

The former Sandra Dunham was born in Burlington, Wisc. She moved to Kenmore as a young girl and graduated from Kenmore East High School. Later, she attended beauty school and met her future husband, Vincent  LaFratta, when working for the same hair salon company.

The couple eloped about a year later and moved to Williamsville, where they opened Vinsan Spa & Salon.

She had plenty of emergencies in her line of work, like the time a client's husband surprised the client with a trip to Florida. That meant having to don a bathing suit with bare thighs -- a crisis in the business of cellulite treatment.

LaFratta's solution was to apply a technique that involved rubbing a deep-cooling gel into the lumpy body parts, and wrapping them in paraffin-soaked sheets.

She also developed a cellulite treatment extensively used today.

The couple later moved to Clarence and retired in 2014 after operating the business for 47 years.

The LaFrattas also owned a home in St. Petersburg, Fla., where they liked to entertain friends and family. They also had an offshore boat they both enjoyed riding in.

Saturday would have marked the couple's 50th anniversary.

"She was the life of the party," daughter Gina Trippie said. "They were always entertaining, and cooking for people and throwing big parties, and always laughing. She was just fun."

There was another side to her mom, too.

"My mother was strong and compassionate and elegant. Many said she was the classiest woman they ever met," Mrs. Trippie said. "She was full of strength and dignity through her illness. She never complained. Many people didn't even know she was sick. I think she gathered her strength and peace from her faith."

Mrs. LaFratta was one of a dozen founding members of Restoration Church in Amherst in 2009, where she served on different ministries.

In addition to her husband and daughter, survivors include a son, Vincent LaFratta; a sister, Jerilyn Schutte; and four grandchildren.

Services were held Saturday.

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