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Dr. Vincent J. Rizzo, longtime physician, gardener Jan. 12, 1916 -- Sept. 14, 2005

Dr. Vincent J. Rizzo, a physician for more than 60 years and an avid gardener, died Wednesday at his Amherst home after a sudden illness. He was 89.

A native of Buffalo, he graduated from Hutchinson-Central High School and earned an undergraduate degree at Canisius College and a medical degree at Georgetown University.

After college, he enlisted in the Navy. During World War II, he served as a physician in Trinidad. He met his first wife,

Berniece, during the war, and they later returned together to Western New York. They had six children.

Berniece Rizzo died in 1953. Ten years later, Dr. Rizzo married Mary Ann Wrona. They lived in Amherst and had five children together. They were married for 43 years.

Dr. Rizzo had an office in Cheektowaga and performed surgery at Sisters Hospital from 1949 until he retired from private practice in 1990. In retirement, he continued to practice at Columbus Hospital's West Side Health Clinic and the Gajewski Medical Clinic on the East Side.

He enjoyed gardening both at his home and at his 117-acre grape and fruit farm in Somerset.

He was a member of the American Medical Association, the Erie County Medical Society, the Catholic Medical Mission Board, the Buffalo Academy of Medicine, the Catholic Physicians Guild, the Baccelli Medical Club, the Catholic Medical Association of the Diocese of Buffalo and the Holy Name Society at St. Benedict Catholic Church in Eggertsville.

Surviving, in addition to his wife, are eight daughters, Michelle Vinciguerra of Oregon, Dianne Bloom of Vienna, Va., Burma LaVallo of Vista, Calif., Nina Samay of Houston, Rosemary Barker of Pittsburgh, Mary Margaret of Amherst, Judeanne Hinton of Buffalo and Maria Appleton of Kenmore; three sons, Vincent A. of Vista, James of London and Joseph of Kenmore; 15 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Christ the King Catholic Church, 30 Lamarck Drive at Main Street, Snyder, after prayers in Harry A. Wedekindt Funeral Home, 280 Grover Cleveland Highway, Amherst. Burial will be in Mount Calvary Cemetery, Cheektowaga.

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