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Eugene Musial, 94, bookstore owner, WWII vet; Oct. 29, 1917 -- Feb. 23, 2012

Eugene Musial, a bookstore owner and historical collector who fought in the Battle of Normandy in World War II, died Thursday in Amberleigh Retirement Community, Amherst. He was 94.

Born in Buffalo and a graduate of East High School, Mr. Musial served in the Army from 1940 to 1946, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant and served in the First Infantry Division.

He met his future wife, the former Gertrude Zillforth, while serving in Europe. She lived in the German town of Waldsassen, through which Mr. Musial was marching German prisoners as they came from what was then Czechoslovakia. They married in January 1949.

He was a sales representative for Curtice Burns food firm, which now operates as Birds Eye Foods, from 1954 to 1974.

He was the proprietor of two Buffalo Bookstore locations, in Amherst and Lockport, from 1974 until his retirement in 2002.

Mr. Musial was featured in a Buffalo News article in October 2010, when he was the winning bidder for a "signed" copy of Mary Jemison's 1833 last will and testament, which was up for auction. Jemison spent her life living among Native American tribes and was known as the "white woman of the Genesee." At the time, Musial said he had been a collector of historical items related to Jemison for 60 years.

His collection also contained other historical items related to Western New York, including Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

Mr. Musial was a member of a number of Masonic organizations: Lodge of the Ancient Landmarks 358; Scottish Rite, Valley of Buffalo; York Rite, Royal Arch Masons; Allied Masonic Degrees; and Ismalia Shrine Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, West Seneca.

He was a lifetime member of the Buffalo Museum of Science and the Society of the First Infantry Division. He was also a member of the Buffalo Postcard Club.

He was a charter member of the Cheektowaga Baptist Church and a member of the First Polish Baptist Church in Buffalo.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Hildegarde J. Berdine and Cora E.; and three sisters, Adeline Rein, Alfreda Champagne and Pauline Frick.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in Cheektowaga Baptist Church, 670 Dick Road, Cheektowaga.