May 31, 1917 – Oct. 4, 2017
Matthew Joseph Duggan, a World War II veteran and retired Buffalo school principal, died Wednesday in Brothers of Mercy Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Clarence. He was 100.
Born in Buffalo, the oldest of 10 children, he attended Our Lady of Perpetual Help School and South Park High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Buffalo State Teachers College and taught eighth-grade history at Buffalo School 33 while completing his master’s degree at Buffalo State.
He enlisted in the Navy Air Corps during World War II, but was unable to fly due to a medical condition. Instead, he was loaned to an Army reconnaissance unit assigned to Gen. George S. Patton’s 3rd Army and served as an a radio operator with an advance unit, relaying information to advancing troops.
After the war, Mr. Duggan returned to School 33 before becoming assistant principal at School 74 and School 52. He became principal of School 54 on Main Street in 1960 and served for 20 years, playing an influential role in the desegregation of the city’s schools.
In his book, “City on the Lake,” Mark Goldman noted that, under Mr. Duggan, School 54 received a $100,000 State Education Department grant to “develop a superior program at the school to encourage families not to move out of the district.”
Nicknamed “The Professor,” he was a past president of the Schoolmasters Association. A longtime Town of Tonawanda resident, he was a member of the Knights of Columbus, the Knights of Equity and the Holy Name Society at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.
A music lover, he had a large collection of big band jazz records and regularly attended the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Shea's Performing Arts Center. He also was an avid reader and enjoyed solving crossword puzzles with his wife.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, the former Jean Harrington; two daughters, Catherine Sobota and Sheila Lyons; a son, Matthew John; a sister, Dorothy Higgins; and seven grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday in St. John the Baptist Church, 1085 Englewood Ave., Town of Tonawanda.