Josephine Ervolina, the co-founder of Valu Home Centers and a lifelong Buffalo-area resident, died Friday in Buffalo General Hospital at age 93.
Mrs. Ervolina graduated from Grover Cleveland High School at age 16 in 1933, planning to attend nursing school, but was told she would have to wait a year because of her young age. She then spent a year continuing her studies at Technical High School, where she met her future husband, Michael A. Ervolina Sr.
As a young woman, she was a secretary at Buffalo City Hall. She later went on to co-found with her husband Valu Home Centers. She served as vice chairwoman of its board of directors.
As co-chairwoman of the board since her husband died nearly 25 years ago, she was instrumental in helping to guide and support the family and business. Her family credited her with providing the company with wisdom, knowledge, support and advice for more than 70 years.
"She was truly one of the most inspirational leaders of the Ervolina, Amico and Arena families," the family said in a statement.
Mrs. Ervolina was a member of the Mussomelese Society of Our Lady of Miracles and a member of the Altar and Rosary Society at St. Benedict, where she taught religious education.
She is survived by a son, Michael A. Jr.; four daughters, Patricia Tufillaro, Joan Ess, Mary and Susan; a sister, Grayce Arena; and three brothers, Dr. Joseph Amico, former Sheriff Michael Amico and the Rev. Charles Amico.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Benedict Church, 1317 Eggert Road, Eggertsville.