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Roger L. Palczewski, executive at Rosina Food Products, former Sorrento CEO, trustee at Hilbert

April 12, 1946 – Sept. 14, 2015

Roger L. Palczewski, of Hamburg, chief operating officer for Rosina Food Products and former president and CEO of Sorrento Inc., died unexpectedly Monday in Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester. He was 69.

Known as “The Numbers Man,” Mr. Palczewski began his career with Sorrento, the locally based cheese products company, in 1972 as a bookkeeper. He went on to serve as controller, senior vice president for finance and senior administrative vice president, then was named to head the company in 1990. He held the post until 1994.

He then joined Protein Group, based in Portland, Maine, and managed one of its subsidiaries, Fike’s Dairy, near Pittsburgh. After he arranged for Fike’s to acquire Charlap’s Dairy Farms here, he was named CEO of Charlap’s.

Mr. Palczewski went on to head Petri Baking Products in Silver Creek, bringing the company out of foreclosure. In 2002, he took his post at Rosina, which he held at the time of his death.

Active in many facets of the dairy industry, Mr. Palczewski was a member of the board of directors of Perry’s Ice Cream Co. and a member of the National Cheese Institute and the American Producers of Italian Type Cheese Association.

He also served for 23 years as a trustee at Hilbert College and was a director of Our Lady of Victory Hospital and president of the Wanakah Country Club. He was chairman of the board of Hunter’s Hope Foundation.

Mr. Palczewski taught business and finance courses at Hilbert and classes for advanced students at his alma mater, St. Francis High School.

Born in Lackawanna, he attended St. Michael’s School and received an early education in business helping his uncle Leon Witkowski at his American Wallpaper and Paint store.

He was a 1964 graduate of St. Francis, where he ran on the track team, and earned a business management degree from Alfred State College in 1966, then enlisted in the Air Force. Trained as a Russian linguist, he was stationed in the Aleutian Islands.

Returning from service in 1970, he became business administrator at St. Francis, the first layperson to hold an administrative post at the school, and attended night classes at the University at Buffalo, earning a degree in business administration.

A longtime Orchard Park resident, he moved to Hamburg 15 years ago.

For his charitable work, he was honored as the Boys Towns of Italy Man of the Year in 1994.

Survivors include his wife of 48 years, the former Carol Tracy; a son, Todd; two daughters, Jennifer Bickerstaff and Tracey Wappman; a sister, Linda Stencel; and six grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church, 4737 Lake Shore Road, Hamburg.

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