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Mary M. Myszkiewicz, longtime president of Allentown Village Society, teacher and activist

March 19, 1934 – May 5, 2016

Mary Madeline Myszkiewicz, a teacher and longtime president of the Allentown Village Society, parent organization of the Allentown Art Festival, died Thursday in Brookdale Orchard Glen, Orchard Park, after a lengthy illness. She was 82.

Mrs. Myszkiewicz took up the presidency in 1996 of a volunteer operation that her mother, who owned the Buffalo Cloth Weaving Co. at Allen and Franklin streets, helped to found with other Allentown business owners in 1958 in an effort to upgrade what was then a declining neighborhood.

One of her first challenges, she told The Buffalo News in 2010, was to accommodate the motorcade for a wedding scheduled in the Holiday Inn on Delaware Avenue without disrupting the festival.

She resolved the awkward situation by arranging to route the wedding guests through the parking lot of the pharmacy next door.

She said that her proudest accomplishment was moving the society’s offices from a dingy building with a leaky roof on Franklin Street to spacious, airy quarters on Delaware Avenue.

She stepped down as president in 2014.

Born in Buffalo, the former Mary Madeline Benson attended Nardin Elementary School and St. Mark’s School and was a graduate of St. Mary’s Seminary.

She was the mother of six young children when she completed her bachelor’s degree at Rosary Hill (now Daemen) College in 1968.

Mrs. Myszkiewicz began teaching elementary grades in the Buffalo school system and was a New York State math and science program mentor. She taught kindergarten in a parochial school after she moved to Syracuse in 1977 and earned her master’s degree in education from SUNY Cortland State.

Returning to Buffalo in 1985, she taught kindergarten at St. Mark’s School. She retired in 1995.

During the 1960s and 1970s, she was a civil rights activist and a board member of the Parkside Community Association when it was fighting discriminatory redlining by home mortgage lenders. She also was a Girl Scout troop leader and a member of the PTA at St. Mark’s School.

She was a lifelong parishioner at St. Mark’s Catholic Church and served on the Bishop’s Committee.

A history buff, she was a docent at the Buffalo History Museum and led educational tours for schoolchildren.

Her husband of 28 years, Thomas M., died in 1984.

Survivors include three sons, James W., Joseph V. and Peter T.; three daughters, Dr. Barbara Ann Myszkiewicz Sullivan, Julia Marie Leone and Molly Beth Vendura; 11 grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Monday in St. Mark’s Church, 401 Woodward Ave.

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