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Ann I. Surowiec, choir lead soloist July 25, 1914 -- Sept. 17, 2005

Ann I. "Anita" Surowiec, a lead soloist for the East Side Philharmonia choir, died Saturday in her Cheektowaga home after a brief illness. She was 91.

A Buffalo native, the former Ann Hochul was trained in voice during the Depression era and was once scouted by the Metropolitan Opera, according to family members.

As a coloratura, adept in the upper registry of the soprano voice, Mrs. Surowiec performed many original liturgical compositions under East Side Philharmonia choir conductor-composer Jan Lezon.

She also performed for more than 35 years with the Kalina Singing Society and remained an honorary member. She sang for more than 400 weddings in most of Buffalo's leading churches and cathedrals.

At one time, she cut crystal as an employee of Cataract-Sharp Glass Co. and rose to the position of sample cutter, innovating her own crystal designs.

Her husband of more than 40 years, Leon, died in 1970.

Mrs. Surowiec attended Buffalo Public Schools and helped her seven brothers and sisters during the Depression years, family members said.

Survivors include a son, Lee of Cheektowaga; three daughters Joan Struzyk of Sloan, Helen Balesteri of Amherst and Leonie Warrin of Ormond Beach, Fla.; nine grandchildren; and 14 great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered 10 a.m. Wednesday in Resurrection Catholic Church, Union Road and Como Park Boulevard, Cheektowaga. Burial will be in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, Cheektowaga.

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