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Susanne E. Havas, an Eastern European immigrant who moved to the United States in the 1950s, died Sunday (May 18, 2003) in Elderwood Skilled Nursing Facility at Oakwood, Amherst, after a brief illness. She was 96.

Born Zsuzsana Galanffy in Debrecen, Hungary, she fled to Germany with her husband and children during World War II. The family settled in a small village in Bavaria and struggled to overcome poverty for six years.

In 1951, her family obtained sponsorship from Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church and immigrated to America. Having grown up in an elegant Hungarian home, she struggled to cope with her new work as a housekeeper -- but she persevered and became a U.S. citizen in 1956.

She later worked in Roswell Park Cancer Institute's mouse breeding labs for more than a decade, and after her husband's death in the late 1970s, she volunteered in the Loaves and Fishes Dining Room at Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church.

She loved to play games. She also enjoyed playing the piano, reading and baking Hungarian specialties.

She maintained her own home until age 92. During residence at Bassett Manor, Amherst, she kept up with her daily walks despite physical limitations.

Her husband of 45 years, William, died in 1976.

Survivors include three daughters, Eva A. Pfendt of Los Altos, Calif., Katharine E. Hura of Williamsville and Judith S. Matheisz of Williamsville, and three grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, 875 Elmwood Ave.


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