John J. Olszewski, long one of Buffalo's best-known Polish-American attorneys and the father of Erie County Family Court Judge Margaret Olszewski-Szczur, died Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 26, 1998) in Buffalo General Hospital after a lengthy illness.
Olszewski, 71, was a former local counsel for the Polish government consulate and one of the key attorneys in the landmark Hurd challenge to Buffalo property tax limits that brought some $27 million in refunds to almost 60,000 city taxpayers.
A 1950 University of Buffalo Law School graduate and an Eagle Scout, the East Side native graduated from St. Stanislaus School and Seneca Vocational High School before serving two years of active duty in the U.S. Army in 1946 and 1947.
Olszewski was a hard-nosed criminal defense lawyer who represented members of the Lackawanna School Board and Cheektowaga Town Board during government criminal scandals more than 20 years ago.
In the Hurd case, he was the attorney for property owners who had never formally protested excess city taxes. He was a central figure in what became a decade-long court battle over city property taxes.
That landmark case was launched in 1974 by the late Bradley J. Hurd, a Buffalo taxpayers advocate who successfully challenged the constitutionality of a state law allowing the city to go beyond its property tax limit to raise money.
Olszewski, who retired from the U.S. Army Reserve with the rank of captain, throughout his law career maintained offices on his native East Side, handling civil, criminal and estate matters.
He was a former president of the Advocates Club of Western New York, a Polish-American legal organization, and a member of the Erie County Bar Association and the Professional Businessmen's Association.
Olszewski was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1958.
Besides his daughter Margaret, he also is survived by another daughter, Elizabeth of Manchester, Conn.; two sons, John M. of Ellicott City, Md., and Paul of Princeton, N.J.; a brother, Richard Miles of Cheektowaga; and two grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at noon Monday in St. Bernadette's Catholic Church, 5930 S. Abbott Road, Orchard Park, after prayers at 11:15 in Kazmierczak Funeral Home, 3640 Clinton St., West Seneca. Burial will be in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Cheektowaga.