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Matthew W. Pelczynski, 82, owner and publisher of the Am-Pol Eagle weekly newspaper and a respected leader of the Western New York Polish-American community, died Thursday (Nov. 4, 1993) in his Cheektowaga home after a long illness.

"He was the voice of the Polish-American community," said Brian D. Rusk, who succeeded Pelczynski as president of the General Pulaski Association of the Niagara Frontier. "He kept the Polish community united. We would not have a General Pulaski Association today if it had not been for him."

Rusk, who has been president of the association since he succeeded Pelczynski in 1987, said Pelczynski was president of the association for 12 terms and was responsible for building the annual Pulaski Day Parade into an event that now attracts 150,000 persons.

Pelczynski, who was born in Buffalo, was a graduate of St. Stanislaus School, Masten Park High School, Bryant & Stratton Business Institute and the University of Buffalo.

From 1933 to 1958, he was employed by Everybody's Publishing Co., publisher of Everybody's Daily, and served as its general manager. In 1958, he founded Buffalo Standard Printing Corp. and became its president. He also published the Am-Pol Eagle.

Known for his dedication to the preservation of Polish culture and traditions for Western New York's 350,000 Polish-Americans, Pelczynski was active in many ethnic, church and civic organizations.

He was a past director of the Polish Singing Circle and the Bailey-Delavan Businessmen's and Taxpayers Association. He was a member of the Chopin Singing Society, Knights of Columbus, Polish Union of America and the Polish American Congress.

Pelczynski was honored by numerous organizations, including the Polish Singing Circle, the Polish-American Congress and the Polish-American Solidarity Club of Western New York, which named him its Man of the Year in 1991.

He also was named Citizen of the Year in 1988 by the Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce.

In 1984, Pelczynski got the idea for a statue of Pope John Paul II to be placed here.

"I heard of statues (of the pope) going up in other areas," he recalled, "so I figured, 'Why not Buffalo?' "

Pelczynski became one of the leaders of a drive to raise $57,000 for the statue of the Polish pope. The life-size, bronze statue was dedicated in June 1987 in the auditorium circle facing Pennock Place at Villa Maria College to make Pelczynski's "pipe dream" come true.

Pelczynski also was known for raising and providing funds for scholarships for Polish-American youngsters.

He and his newspaper received the respect of local, state and national politicians.

"When governors and senators came to town," one friend remembered Thursday, "they first went to the Broadway Market and then to Matt Pelczynski's office on Delavan Avenue. His visitors included Bobby Kennedy and Nelson Rockefeller. He was that respected."

Survivors include his wife, the former Florence E. Klosinski; two sisters, Ophelia Zawadski and Tessie, both of Cheektowaga; and two brothers, Zeneth of Lackawanna and Gerald of Amherst.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Monday in St. John Gualbert Catholic Church, Gualbert Avenue and Doat Street. Prayers will be said at 9 in Melvin J. Sliwinski Funeral Home, 85 George Urban Blvd., Cheektowaga. Burial will be in St. Stanislaus Cemetery.

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