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Jessie J. Ciccia, 99, ran 2 businesses with husband ; Feb. 29, 1912 -- Dec. 21, 2011

Jessie J. Ciccia of Williamsville, who established and operated two businesses with her husband on Buffalo's West Side, died Wednesday in Erie County Medical Center. She was 99.

Born in Punxsutawney, Pa., the former Jessie Iacono grew up in Silver Creek and moved to Buffalo after marrying Samuel S. "Chi-Chi" Ciccia in 1931. When her husband was unemployed during the Depression, she worked in a laundry to pay the bills and enroll her son and daughter in dance classes.

Later, she was a saleswoman for Avon products, winning sales awards, and worked for Norban's Dress Shop. After she and her husband opened Chi-Chi's Restaurant on Grant Street in 1946, she became renowned for her spaghetti sauce. In the 1950s, they also opened another business, Chi-Chi's Hardware & Tool Rental, also on Grant Street, which her son now operates.

After the restaurant closed, she served as secretary for her daughter's dance studio, the Royale Dance Academy, managing the finances, sewing costumes and scrubbing floors. She also served as an officer and bookkeeper for many clubs and home bureau organizations.

A devoted churchwoman, she sang in the choir at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church and was a Eucharistic minister at St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church.

Her husband died in 2004.

Surviving are a daughter, Bernadine DeMike; and a son, Samuel J.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. Louis Catholic Church, Main and Edward streets.

[ANDERSON]