Sept. 1, 1935 – April 25, 2017
Matthew J. Pronko, of Orchard Park, retired national advertising director for The Buffalo News, died Tuesday in Mercy Hospital after a short illness. He was 81.
Born in Buffalo, he was a 1953 graduate of Buffalo Technical High School, where he studied advertising arts and production.
After high school, he worked for Pirmacs Distributors, then went to Anderson and Wahl, a printing and mail advertising firm, where he was advertising and lithographic production coordinator.
His time there was interrupted by two years of service in the Army. Stationed at the Oakland, Calif., Army Terminal, he attained the rank of sergeant.
He went on to serve four years in the Army Reserve.
Mr. Pronko joined Manhardt-Alexander Color Printers in 1962 as a lithographic sales representative, then began his career in newspaper advertising the following year at the Buffalo Courier-Express, where he advanced to became sales manager.
He came to The News in 1970, specializing at first in real estate advertising sales. Among his accomplishments was the creation of the Home Finder, the newspaper’s weekly real estate magazine.
He became national advertising director in the late 1980s and retired in 2000.
“All the agencies and all the national firms, they all said he was the best national manager in the country,” News president and publisher Warren T. Colville, who promoted Mr. Pronko to the position, said Wednesday. “We thought the world of him. He did just a phenomenal job for us.”
An Orchard Park resident for 50 years, he was a charter member of Bishop Burke Council 5284, Knights of Columbus, and was a member of the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce, the Niagara Frontier Builders Association and the Nottingham Village Homeowners Association.
He also was active with Junior Achievement, the Boy Scouts and the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.
He enjoyed sailing, woodworking, cross-country skiing and travel.
His wife of 55 years, the former Margaret A. Moeller, died last April.
Survivors include two sons, John M. and Michael J.; and seven grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church, 26 Thorn Ave. at South Buffalo Street, Orchard Park.