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Alice Kryzan, dedicated attorney waged spirited runs for office; July 19, 1948 -- June 2, 2012

Alice Kryzan, an environmental attorney who waged spirited but unsuccessful campaigns for Congress and Amherst town supervisor in recent years, has died, her family said Monday. She was 63.

Ms. Kryzan died Saturday in the company of family in her Amherst home. She had been suffering from cancer.

Friends recalled her as a feisty fighter for her convictions, which ranged from women's rights to environmentalism.

"It was Alice's passion and willingness to serve that drew me into her congressional campaign," said Anne Robinson Wadsworth, who managed Ms. Kryzan's 2008 bid for Congress as a Democrat in New York's 26th District.

"It was what I discovered along the way that made us friends: She had the mouth of a sailor, the heart of a warrior and an inner fire that never burned out."

Ms. Kryzan is likely to be remembered most for that congressional race, which she lost to Republican Chris Lee.

Before the primary in that race, though, her campaign produced one of the most memorable ads in local political history.

The ad showed actors playing her opponents, industrialist Jack Davis and Iraq War veteran Jonathan Powers, scuffling -- and Ms. Kryzan admonishing them with the putdown: "Boys, take it somewhere else."

Several weeks later, Ms. Kryzan won the primary.

Undeterred by her later loss to Lee, Ms. Kryzan ran as the Democratic candidate for Amherst town supervisor in 2009, losing to Republican Barry Weinstein.

Ms. Kryzan ran in tough races, said Rep. Brian Higgins, D-Buffalo.

"She stepped up and got in when the odds were against her," Higgins said.

Before entering electoral politics, Ms. Kryzan was chairwoman of the board of Planned Parenthood of Buffalo and Erie County from 1998 to 2000 and also served as treasurer of the Women's TAP Fund, which raises money for pro-choice female candidates.

"Alice was one of a kind -- a woman of great integrity, who dove into politics for the unusual reason of wanting to improve the lives of citizens, not fuel her own ego," said Jane F. Griffin, who served with Ms. Kryzan on the Women's TAP Fund.

Ms. Kryzan was the first female partner at Buffalo's largest law firm, Phillips Lytle, and later managed the Buffalo office of Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna. She retired in 2005.

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, she graduated from Ursuline High School in Youngstown and received her bachelor's degree from Trinity University in Washington, D.C.

In 1973, she received her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School. There she met her husband, Robert S. Berger, now emeritus professor of Law at the University at Buffalo Law School. The couple moved to Amherst in 1978.

Ms. Kryzan is survived by her husband; a son, Sam; and a sister, Carol Ward.

A celebration of her life is set for 1 p.m. June 25 in the Mary Seaton Room of Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle. A reception will follow at 2 p.m.

Ms. Kryzan "was a champion of progressive causes and believed deeply in citizenship -- which is participating in our democracy," Higgins said. "She was a true believer."

-- Jerry Zremski