Matthew J. Sopczyk, a steelworker, union official and softball standout, died Saturday (Sept. 23, 2000) in Buffalo General Hospital after a lengthy illness. He was 82.
Sopczyk, of West Seneca, was born in Buffalo and grew up in what was known as the "Little Hollywood" section of the East Side.
As a crewman with the Army Air Forces 38th Bomber Group during World War II, he participated in air offensives in the South Pacific and in bombing runs over China and Japan. He also was an athletics instructor.
Sopczyk worked for Republic Steel as a crane operator and furnace supervisor for 44 years, and was a vice president and member of the Grievance Committee of Steelworkers Local 1743.
An outstanding third baseman and pitcher, he turned down an offer to tour with Eddie Feigner of "The King and His Court" after playing against the legendary softball pitcher, according to family members.
His feats on the diamond earned Sopczyk a key to the city from Mayor Steven Pankow in the 1950s, and induction into the Western New York Softball Hall of Fame in 1973. He was still playing the game at age 62.
A golfer who once scored a hole-in-one at Elma Meadows, Sopczyk also enjoyed hunting, fishing, woodworking and gardening.
He was a life member of the SS. Peter & Paul Athletic Club; former member of Council 184, Knights of Columbus; and member of the Republic Steel Retirees Social Club.
Survivors include his wife, the former Geraldine Kazmierczak; a daughter, Valerie LaMarca of West Seneca; two sons, Matthew W. and Mark W., both of West Seneca; two sisters, Clara Odrzywolski and Susan Osika, both of Cheektowaga; two brothers, Alfred of Cheektowaga and Edward; and three grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. Gabriel's Catholic Church, 5271 Clinton St., Elma, following prayers at 8:45 in Kazmierczak Funeral Home, 3640 Clinton St., West Seneca. Burial will be in Mount Calvary Cemetery, Cheektowaga.