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Josephine Varga, 99, market owner, avid swimmer

Feb. 28, 1915 – Dec. 27, 2014

Josephine Varga, a longtime resident of Buffalo, died Saturday at Kenmore Mercy Hospital after a short illness, two months before turning 100.

Born in Kenosha, Wis., the former Josephine Swarcewicz graduated from Hutchinson Central High School in 1932.

She and her husband, Joe Rafai, were proprietors of Rafai’s Market. The market was later named Varga’s Market when Mrs. Varga and her second husband, George Varga, operated the business.

Mrs. Varga also worked as a hairdresser and tour group leader.

In her early teens and 20s, Mrs. Varga was a champion swimmer specializing in the breast stroke, winning medals in both the junior and women’s events at the National Amateur Athletic Union Championship held at the Buffalo Athletic Club. She was a longtime member of the Delaware YMCA, where at the age of 95 she was still swimming three times a week. She was a former member of the Women’s Aquatic Club of Buffalo.

An active member of the former St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church, she was an officer of the church Mother’s Club. She was a Girl Scout leader and a longtime volunteer at Kenmore Mercy.

Her first husband, Joseph J. Rafai, died in 1950 and her second, George C. Varga, died in 1984.

Survivors include two daughters, Betsey Rafai and Carol Carner; a son, Joseph E. Rafai; and two grandchildren.

A memorial Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Feb. 28 at Assumption Church, 435 Amherst St.

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