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Henry J. Dembski, a United Airlines retiree who once roomed with the legendary Bart Starr as a football player at the University of Alabama, died unexpectedly Friday (Nov. 15, 2002) in Sisters Hospital. He was 69.

An Amherst resident, Dembski grew up in Black Rock and was a graduate of Riverside High School, where he was a football standout.

After graduation, he accepted a scholarship to the University of Alabama, and ended up being the roommate to Starr, the Green Bay Packers great and football Hall of Famer. At Alabama, Dembski played as a defensive lineman and tackle.

A Korean War-era Army veteran, Dembski trained at Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Benning, Ga., and earned his paratrooper wings and marksman pin. He as part of the 11th Airborne Division and 3rd Ranger Battalion, and rose to the rank of lieutenant. He also played football as a defensive lineman with the 503rd Infantry, which was known as the Rock Regiment.

Though offered a pro football contract, Dembski couldn't play because of a knee injury.

From 1956 to 1994, he was employed by United Airlines as a supervisor and operating agent. He belonged to the United Management Club and Mainliner Club.

He had been a parishioner of Assumption Catholic Church in Black Rock, and was active as an usher and a member of the Holy Name Society. Recently he was a parishioner of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Amherst, where he was a member of the Holy Name Society. He also was a member of the Niagara Frontier Post, American Legion.

Survivors include his wife of 45 years, the former Rita P. Kornik; two daughters, Cathleen Dee of Sandy Hook, Conn., and Carolyn Meierjurgen of New Egypt, N.J.; a son, Henry G. of Cheektowaga; two sisters, Josephine Bach of Buffalo and Helen Radick of Eggertsville; and two grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:15 a.m. Monday in St. Leo the Great Church, 885 Sweet Home Road, Amherst. Members of Niagara Frontier Post will provide military honors during burial in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Town of Tonawanda.


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