Stanley J. Kloc, who with his wife, Dorothy, started a picnic grove that grew over 50 years into a permanent facility enjoyed by thousands of promgoers, wedding parties and those looking for a scenic place to gather, died Friday in his West Seneca home after a short illness. He was 83.
Mr. Kloc's death came before he had a chance to host a 50th anniversary party this year of the founding of Kloc's Blossom Grove along Seneca Creek Road in West Seneca.
A colorful character, he was happiest behind the bar at the grove, telling jokes and entertaining friends and guests, his family said.
His son, Joseph, manages the grove, which has grown over the years to include three permanent structures with seating for 700 guests and a full-time chef.
Mr. Kloc's schooling at Lackawanna High School was interrupted by service in the Navy during World War II, and he was one of 13 WWII vets who received their diplomas in June 2003.
He served aboard the destroyer USS Robert H. Smith. Upon his return home, he operated his father's Three Gate Inn in Lackawanna.
He and the former Dorothy Pacyon were married in 1949, and six years later, they founded the picnic grove that bears their name.
Mr. Kloc was a lifetime member of Harvey D. Morin Post 2940, Veterans of Foreign Wars, in West Seneca; Matthew Glab Post, American Legion, in Lackawanna; and the Disabled American Veterans. He also was a member of the Civic Keepers Association, a group of local restaurant owners who were informally known as the 12 Apostles.
He was stricken with cancer in January while vacationing in Atlantic City, N.J. He and his wife also frequently traveled to Florida and Las Vegas and enjoyed cruises.
In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by two sisters, Julie Anslick of Newark, N.J., and Gertrude Antos of Alexandria, Va.; and three grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:15 a.m. Monday in Queen of Heaven Church, Mill Road and Seneca Street in West Seneca.