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Tafe J. Sawma, WWII veteran insurance executive Feb. 5, 1910 -- Dec. 23, 2005

Tafe J. Sawma, believed to be the oldest World War II veteran in Niagara County, died Friday in ElderWood Health Care Facility at Riverwood, Grand Island, after a long illness. He was 95. Born in Niagara Falls, he graduated from Niagara Falls High School. He attended college, where he studied business. Mr. Sawma served with the Army during World War II and was stationed in the Northern Solomon Islands and the Philippines. He received several medals.

He also served in the Army during the Korean War and in the National Guard, where he earned the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He was former commander of the 336th AAA Battalion, New York National Guard, in Niagara Falls, where he was active in many operations, including mobilizing an alert to test the speed and efficiency of local guardsmen.

Mr. Sawma was involved in the program to expand and improve the Niagara Falls Armory. He also was a past grand marshal of the Memorial Day Parade in Niagara Falls.

He retired from the National Guard in 1955 and from the Army Reserve in March 1963 after more than 20 years of service.

Mr. Sawma worked as an insurance executive with Mutual of New York Insurance Co. and owned and operated Tafe J. Sawma Insurance Agency in Niagara Falls for more than 50 years.

He was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Niagara Falls for more than 50 years and a member and past president of the Niagara Falls Chapter of the Kiwanis Club.

He founded the Lebanese Club of Niagara Falls in 1960.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, the former Jeanette Abujowdy; three daughters, Catherine Bridgeman and Annette Rodriguez, both of Niagara Falls, and Jeannine Scibilia of Grand Island; a son, James of Niagara Falls; nine grandchildren; two great-granddaughters.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:15 a.m. today in Sacred Heart Church, 1917 11th St. Burial, with military honors, will be in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Lewiston.


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