Aug. 30, 1924 – March 1, 2015
Louis James Harasty, of Williamsville, a World War II veteran, newspaper photographer and high school teacher, died Sunday in Harris Hill Nursing Home, Clarence, after a short illness. He was 90.
Born in Punxsutawney, Pa., the son of Hungarian immigrants, he came to Buffalo with his family as a child.
He served in the Army in the 69th Infantry Division, 880th Field Artillery Battalion, in the Rhineland Campaign, the Central Europe Campaign and the Battle of Leipzig, and helped liberate prisoners from concentration camps.
Fluent in Hungarian and able to speak German and some Russian, he used his language skills to help repatriate refugees.
Returning from Europe, he was going to be sent on a planned invasion of Japan. In 1962, when President Harry S. Truman visited Canisius College to receive an honorary degree, Mr. Harasty personally thanked Truman for saving his life by deciding to drop the atomic bombs in Japan that ended the war and made the invasion unnecessary.
Discharged from the Army, Mr. Harasty graduated from Veterans High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Canisius College, where he was a life member of the DiGamma Honor Society.
He was a staff photographer for the Magnificat, the newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, from 1954 to 1973, and was an auxiliary photographer for The Buffalo Evening News from 1956 to 1969.
In 1973, he joined the faculty at McKinley High School, where he taught photographic studies.
He also taught at Rosary Hill College, now Daemen College, and taught adult classes at McKinley. He retired in 1997.
He and his wife of 52 years, the former Joan Leonard, a noted portrait painter and art teacher in the Buffalo schools, often displayed their artworks jointly in area galleries and art festivals. She died in 2007.
Survivors include four daughters, Mary Joan Newell, Barbara Andler, Patricia Weeks and Carol Fillip; three sons, Peter, John and Navy Cmdr. Paul; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in St. Mark Catholic Church, 401 Woodward Ave.