Marie Calabretta, a lifelong resident of Buffalo who was known for her devotion to her family and the church, died Friday in her East Side home. She was 73.
Mrs. Calabretta died of cardiopulmonary disease, which her family attributed to her nearly lifelong habit of smoking cigarettes.
In 1972, Mrs. Calabretta was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. She had undergone numerous lifesaving, reconstructive surgeries during the past 35 years that enabled her to live a full life.
The former Marie Muehlbauer married Nicholas Calabretta on New Year's Eve 1956.
The two celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last December at the original Salvatore's family restaurant on East Delavan Avenue.
While raising her five children, Mrs. Calabretta served as an elected officer of the St. Lawrence Mothers Club, coordinating many activities and fundraisers over the years. She twice received the "Mother of the Year" award.
She worked in the Bishop Turner High School cafeteria until the school closed in 1984. For several years, she worked at St. Lawrence Catholic Church, where she was a full-time pastor's assistant. She shopped and cooked for the parish priests and their guests, did their laundry and cleaned the rectory.
"She loved this job and was very proud to work there," said Maria Zwack, her daughter.
Mrs. Calabretta was the inaugural director of the parish's successful Sunday Night Bingo. Throughout the years, she and other devoted parishioners also worked to coordinate fun-filled evenings such as "Italian Night" and "German Night."
For these efforts, she received the distinguished St.
Joseph the Worker award during a ceremony in St. Joseph's Cathedral in 1981.
In 1974, Mrs. Calabretta trained to become one of the first Crisis Services on-call volunteer team members. She counseled victims of rape and sexual assault.
Her daughter recalls driving her mother in the middle of the night to E.J. Meyer Memorial Hospital -- now Erie County Medical Center -- to help those in crisis.
Surviving, in addition to her husband and daughter Maria are another daughter, Tammy Lyman; three sons, Nicholas, Mark and John; and a sister, Audrey Luksch.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. Lawrence Church, 1520 E. Delavan Ave.