Seven years ago, when he announced he would be closing his beloved Mastman's Kosher Delicatessen and Restaurant, Jack B. Shapiro lamented the passing of an era.
No longer would Buffalonians flock to the corner of Hertel and Colvin avenues for their authentic Mastman's delicacies -- ranging from matzo ball soup to lox and bagels to corned beef or pastrami.
"There's nothing in upstate New York," Mr. Shapiro claimed at the time, resigned to the end of a North Buffalo institution. "I'm like the last of the surviving breed."
Mr. Shapiro, who bought Mastman's from the original owner and operated it for some 25 years before closing it in September 2005, died Friday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, eight months after being diagnosed with brain cancer. The Amherst resident was 64.
A Buffalo native, Mr. Shapiro graduated from Kenmore West High School in 1966 and earned his degree in vocational education from the University at Buffalo. He later served in the Army as a medic stationed in Fort Lee, Va.
Mr. Shapiro worked as a store manager for Park Edge Super Markets throughout the 1970s before realizing his dream to own his own business, buying the original Mastman's.
Mastman's dated back to the 1940s, prospering throughout the years when much of the local Jewish population lived within walking distance of the North Buffalo landmark. The deli survived, even after many of its customers moved to the suburbs.
"He knew everybody, and he knew everybody's story," said his wife, Jacqueline. "The first thing he asked everybody was, 'How's your day going?' "
But in 2005, Mr. Shapiro had to close his pride and joy. It was the love of his life, next to his family, and he gave it his all, his wife said.
"But as with everything, there was a time for it to end," she said. "He said it was time to bow out gracefully."
Following Mastman's, Mr. Shapiro worked as the kosher department manager for the Wegmans on Sheridan Drive until shortly before his death.
Outside the deli business, he was a member for many years of the Queen City Chordsmen, a barbershop quartet, and also served as a Cub Scout leader.
Surviving are his wife of 39 years, the former Jacqueline Hosking; two daughters, Stacey and Sara; a son, Shawn; and a sister, Pamela Daigler.
Services will be at 10 a.m.
today in Lester H. Wedekindt Funeral Home, 3290 Delaware Ave., Tonawanda.
-- Gene Warner