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Rev. Maximilian M. Kozminski, pastor, teacher; Sept. 19, 1932 -- Dec. 29, 2011

As a priest, principal and teacher, Monsignor Maximilian M. Kozminski didn't often make headlines.

But, in 1998, his Cheektowaga parish was briefly the focus of regional -- and even national -- attention, when an anonymous letter arrived in his church's mailbox, claiming to be full of anthrax.

Kozminski's church and rectory at Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church on George Urban Boulevard were shut down for 72 hours during that scare, which later proved to be baseless -- and likely part of a string of similar events that happened at the same time around the country.

Through it all, Kozminski, pastor for 20 years at Queen of Martyrs, handled the crisis with aplomb.

"The FBI notified us that we could open up the parish," he said after the situation had been resolved. "It was all negative. That's good news."

Kozminski died Thursday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital after a brief illness. He was 79.

Born in 1932 in Buffalo -- and named after his father, also a Max Kozminski -- the young Kozminski attended Mount St. Joseph Elementary School, where he graduated in 1946. He then attended St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute, earning his diploma in 1950. He followed that with a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University at Buffalo in 1954.

Choosing the priesthood as his calling, Monsignor Kozminski studied at Christ the King Seminary. He also received his master's degree in education from Canisius College in 1964.

He was ordained a priest on March 12, 1960, in St. Joseph Cathedral.

During his tenure as a priest, Monsignor Kozminski served at St. Helen's Church in Hinsdale, at St. Bartholomew and St. Stanislaus in Buffalo, and as a weekend assistant at St. Casimir in Buffalo and St. Paul in Kenmore.

As a teacher and administrator, he worked at Bishop Turner High School from 1962 to 1968, teaching math, science and physics. From 1973 to 1974, he was assistant principal at the high school, and then from 1974 to 1978 he served as its principal.

Later, he was administrator of Sacred Heart parish in Batavia.

He served as pastor at Queen of Martyrs in Cheektowaga for 20 years, from 1979 to 1999.

Monsignor Kozminski was active on various local and national boards and organizations, including Catholic Charities, the Diocesan Council of Priests, the President's Council at Villa Maria College, the board of trustees of Turner-Carroll High School, the Knights of Columbus and the National Science Teachers Association.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered 10 a.m. Tuesday in Queen of Martyrs Church, 180 George Urban Blvd., Cheektowaga,

Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz will lead the service.

A wake will be held on Monday, also in the church, between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

-- Charity Vogel

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