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Gaza G. Papp, D-Day veteran wounded in combat, dies at age 92

Dec. 23, 1924 – June 18, 2017

Gaza G. Papp of Buffalo had been an infantryman, a bodybuilder, a boxer, a steelworker, a Merchant Marine and a minister in his long life. He died on Father's Day in Elderwood Rehabilitation Facility in Williamsville at age 92.

Mr. Papp was born in Tonawanda and went into the Army in 1943. He was part of the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944, and landed on Omaha Beach. In 45 days of heavy combat with the 29th Infantry, he was wounded four times. Eventually, serious injuries led to his evacuation to an Army hospital in Paris. He received further treatment at Camp Edwards in Massachusetts.

He was honorably discharged in 1945 and received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Medal for Valor and the Combat Infantryman's Badge.

Mr. Papp's daughter, Gloria Hill, said her father loved life.

"He was very outgoing, jovial. He knew everyone's name, and everyone knew his," she said. "He was very strong, even at age 92."

Mr. Papp went on to work in the Merchant Marines on the Great Lakes and was a steelworker at Bethlehem Steel. He was a minister at Bible Believing Christian Church in Buffalo and an evangelist at other churches.

Hill said her father spent time in California competing as a bodybuilder, rubbing shoulders with some of the elite of the sport, such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, before moving back to live in the Tonawanda area.

Mr. Papp's wife, the former Eleanor Elliott, died in 1984.

He is survived by two daughters, Gloria Hill and Eleanor Papp; two sons, Michael and David; two sisters, Emma and Agnes; and two brothers, Martin and William. He had six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

A service with full military honors will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Crosby Veterans of Foreign Wars Post, 3354 Delaware Ave., Kenmore.

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