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Ulrica A. Mesiah, 94, retired reading teacher active in community organizations

Sept. 12, 1923 – Dec. 17, 2017

Ulrica A. Mesiah, a retired reading teacher in the Buffalo schools, died Sunday after a short illness. She was 94.

Born in Buffalo, the oldest of three children, the former Ulrica Caldwell attended School 17 and was a graduate of Fosdick Masten High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at Buffalo State Teachers College and a master’s degree in education from the University at Buffalo.

She received graduate reading certification from Canisius College for her appointment as a reading teacher in the Buffalo schools. She also was a trained Montessori instructor.

Mrs. Mesiah served as a reading teacher at the former Diocesan Educational Campus, at Buffalo Schools 44 and 66 and at the Martin Luther King School, retiring about 30 years ago.

She designed school newspapers and introduced her students to concert music in her classroom prior to their school visits to Kleinhans Music Hall.

“She would play the music they were going to hear for a week or two,” her daughter, Francesca, said. “She knew that once they knew the music, they would really appreciate it. And when they went to the concerts, they were well-behaved.”

Her daughter added that Mrs. Mesiah also would bake a birthday cake every month and bring it in to celebrate the youngsters having birthdays that month.

“It was the idea of making it more than a reading room,” she said.

Known to all as Rica, she was a founding member of the Buffalonians and a member of the Buffalo Branch NAACP, Afro American Historical Association, the Citizen Council for Human Relations and Blooming Hills. She was a volunteer for Women for Human Rights and Dignity. She was honored by the Buffalo Urban League for more than 30 years of volunteer work with the Urban League Guild.

Active for many years with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Gamma Phi Omega chapter, she was a Silver Soror and served on numerous committees. As a member of the Debutante Ball Committee, she and other Sorors developed the Rites of Passage Program, which has been part of the ball for more than 20 years.

As a young mother, she was active in the Campus School PTA, Kindermutters and Playmates, a play group where she choreographed all the dance routines for the annual shows.

She enjoyed gardening, the arts, traveling abroad and shopping. She was known for her pineapple upside down cakes with fresh whipped cream.

She met her husband, Frank A. Mesiah, a retired teacher and past president of the Buffalo Branch NAACP, by chance when she attending Buffalo State. Needing a ride home from a picnic, she asked his sister for a lift. When the car arrived, Mr. Mesiah was behind the wheel. They were married in 1950.

In addition to her husband and daughter, survivors include two other daughters, Leza M. and Nicolette F.

A celebration of her life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday in St. John Baptist Church, 184 Goodell St.

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