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James J. Speyer Sr., president of News printers’ union

Jan. 9, 1938 – Aug. 6, 2014

James J. Speyer Sr., president of the union that represented Buffalo News printers and who was active in his church and other civic organizations, died Wednesday in his Depew home following a brief illness. He was 76.

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Speyer was educated at Burgard Vocational High School and worked 25 years in the printing industry, working for Savage Litho. He served as president of Local 261, Graphic Communications International Union, which represented the printers union at The News.

An active Catholic, Mr. Speyer was a trustee of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church (St. Martha Parish) for more than 25 years. He was a lifelong member of the Holy Name Society of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and twice was honored as Man of the Year by the Holy Name Society.

Mr. Speyer was remembered for his portrayal of Jesus in the Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament’s original celebrations of the Passion during Holy Week Mass. He also was Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament’s original lawn fete chairman and served as the head usher.

At the time of his death, Mr. Speyer was vice chairman of the Cheektowaga Democratic Party and held the office of zone chairman and committeeman.

He was a past president of the United Irish-American Association and served as grand marshal of the association at the 1989 St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He was also a past member of the Depew Eagles Club and Depew Lions Club.

Family members said he enjoyed spending time with his family and friends.

Mr. Speyer is survived by his wife of 55 years, the former Jean Pauly; four sons, James Jr., Daniel, Richard and Robert; three daughters, Sharon Backert, Judith Wozniak and Mary Pat Mahony; two sisters, Helen McGrath and Kathy LeClaire; a brother, Jack; and 24 grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in St. Martha’s Parish, 10 French Road, Depew. Prayers will be said at 9:45 in Melvin J. Sliwinski Funeral Home, 5090 Transit Road, Depew.

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