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Dr. Victoria Besseghini, psychiatrist, advocate

April 2, 1928 – March 11, 2016

Dr. Victoria Besseghini, a psychiatrist with many local ties, died Friday. She was 87.

She was born in Athens, Greece, and in 1954 received her medical degree from the University of Athens. She completed residencies in internal medicine and pediatrics at University of Athens Hospital.

Dr. Besseghini did an internship at St. Johns Long Island City Hospital and completed a residency in psychiatry at Central Islip Hospital.

She and her former husband, the late Dr. Italo Besseghini, who died in 2000, moved to Western New York in 1963.

From 1963 to 1979, she worked as the unit chief of the children’s unit at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center. She was the director of the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center from 1979 to 1982.

Dr. Besseghini was an advocate for the rights of children and adolescents, and their access to mental health services. She went on to work as a psychiatric consultant to community organizations, schools and other groups, including Child & Family Services, Baker Victory Services, Erie County Medical Center, Hopevale Inc., and the Erie County Forensic Mental Health Services. She also operated a private practice.

She served as a clinical assistant professor in the University at Buffalo Department of Psychiatry. Her awards included the Mental Health Association of Erie County Hyman L. Levin Award, the Googie Butler Award in Recognition of Volunteer Service as a Professional, and the Distinguished Service Award from the Amity House and Transitional Services.

Dr. Besseghini served as president of the Western New York Psychiatric Society in 1985-86, as well as a board member and president in 1987-89 of Transitional Services. She also was a board member of Compeer West, and on the board of directors of the Erie County Mental Health Association.

She was a member of the Erie County Mental Health Children’s Consortium, the Advisory Council of the Compass House, and the association’s Citizen’s Committee for Children.

She also served on the faculty council of the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences from 1981-85.

Dr. Besseghini enjoyed traveling, learning and reading. She was a member of Opera Buffs and the Chamber Music Society.

Survivors include a daughter, Maria Baker; two grandchildren; a great-grandchild; and a sister, Demetria Kapokaki.

A memorial service will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. April 16 in the Forest Lawn Chapel.