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Bruce M. Ponivas of Cheektowaga was involved with many volunteer activities throughout his life, but his volunteer service was never more evident than at Amherst Lutheran Church, where he was a member and loved to lend a hand.

"That was his life," said his wife of 30 years, the former Ernelle Bursch.

Ponivas, 58, died Saturday (Oct. 26, 1996) after a battle with cancer.

Besides serving as an elder, council member, Sunday school teacher and superintendent, and chairman of several committees, Ponivas was a sort of handyman who helped with maintenance at the church on Main Street.

In April, he and his wife received a certificate of appreciation from their church and the Buffalo Area Council of Churches for outstanding ecumenical and community service.

To say Ponivas was active at Amherst Lutheran is an understatement, said the Rev. Charles Greene, pastor of the church.

"Generally, he was regarded as one of those people that if something needed to be done, Bruce was there to volunteer," Greene said.

"He was always one to volunteer and always one you could count on," said Bob Rembold, who was at Amherst Lutheran Sunday afternoon. "I don't know how he found the time."

Ponivas was born in Buffalo and graduated from McKinley High School in 1958. He attended Erie Community College and worked as a draftsman at Dresser-Rand in Buffalo until about a year ago.

Ponivas was in the Naval Reserve, active in the Amherst Lutheran bowling and softball teams and an American Red Cross blood donor for 40 years. He also was an avid golfer and loved to fix up things around the house, his wife said.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two sons, Jonathan of Cheektowaga and David; two daughters, Anne and Sarah, both of Cheektowaga; a sister, Shirley Hayes of Milwaukee; four brothers, Clyde of Las Vegas, Russell of Williamsville, Lynn of Alton, Ill., and Floyd of San Jose, Calif.

A service will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Amherst Lutheran Church, 5125 Main St.

Interment will be in White Chapel Memorial Park, Amherst.[jyry]

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