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Editorial: Czarnecki pursued influential roles at M&T and throughout the community

Mark J. Czarnecki left an impression on this community and in a quiet, effective manner. At 61, he died on Sunday, after a lengthy treatment for cancer in his pancreas.

He had a dedication and pride throughout a distinguished 40-year career at M&T Bank, where he rose from assistant to branch manager and ultimately becoming the bank’s president and chief operating officer.

Czarnecki disclosed his diagnosis in August 2015 but continued as the bank’s No. 2 executive.

He was a true leader, respected by his colleagues at M&T Bank as well as by fellow volunteer board members.

As board chairman of the Buffalo Zoo, Czarnecki worked to improve one of the area’s top cultural assets. While he was vice chairman, he led the search for a new president that in 2000 produced Donna Fernandes, who went on to transform the institution.

His deep caring and concern for this community meant he volunteered his time, skills and resources serving as chairman of the Westminster Foundation and the Westminster Community Charter School, both in partnership with Buffalo Promise Neighborhood. He was president of the New York Bankers Association in 2010.

Czarnecki also served as vice chairman of the University at Buffalo Council and director of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

His friends and colleagues heaped praise on this much-respected leader in a News article written by business reporter Matt Glynn.

Janet M. Coletti, after joining M&T in the mid-1980s, was advised to “spend some time with our commercial loan officer,” who turned out to be Czarnecki and a great influence on his junior colleague. His indefatigable love of his work extended foremost to M&T Bank, which Coletti said Czarnecki stayed in contact with “as late as last week.” His work included putting together a schedule for this week’s management committee meeting.

Czarnecki made an impression on colleagues, but perhaps none as lasting as the one made on M&T’s Chairman and CEO Robert G. Wilmers. “He focused on the big things, he focused on the little things. He’d been here for 40 years and knew an awful lot of people. He was a great judge of people,” Wilmers said. “I think the team we have running the bank today is in no small part due to him.”

Czarnecki will be missed.

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