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William Zucker, 90, co-owner of photo studio and camera store

Aug. 22, 1927 – Oct. 15, 2017

William Zucker, a Holocaust survivor and co-owner of a photography studio and camera shop in North Buffalo, died Oct. 15 in Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Needham, Mass., after a brief illness. He was 90.

Born in Elbing, East Prussia, he grew up in Vladimir Volynsk (Ludmir), in Poland near what is now Lviv, Ukraine, where his father, Itzhak,  owned a small cooking oil factory.

After Nazi troops invaded eastern Poland in 1941, he and his family were forced into a ghetto, where death squads massacred 18,000 Jewish residents in September 1942, including his widowed mother, Rachel Katz Zucker, and two sisters, Sarah and Gittel, who were buried in mass graves in nearby Piyatidne Forest. Another brother, Yechiel, was presumed killed in a nearby village.

Mr. Zucker and his brother Chaim, who were working outside the ghetto for a German dentist, escaped and eventually joined Russian partisans in fighting the Germans. Sponsored by a friend in New Jersey, he came to the U.S. in 1949 and was drafted into the Army, serving stateside during the Korean War.

When he came to Buffalo in 1954, he and a friend from a postwar refugee camp, Michael Zelcer, founded Wilmack Studio. Formerly at 1448 Hertel Ave., it still is in business in Clarence Center. The studio was the first locally to use dimensional flash techniques.

He and Zelcer opened M&W Camera Center as a color photofinishing lab on Hertel Avenue in 1969, and later expanded it to a full service photography retailer with a second shop on Niagara Falls Boulevard. They operated them for more than 30 years.

An avid traveler, he visited Europe, Hawaii, Alaska and Israel, where his brother Chaim was a dentist. He spoke five languages.

He also enjoyed hockey, the opera and investments, and had properties in Williamsville, Florida and Massachusetts. He moved to Needham in 2005.

His wife of 50 years, the former Judith Clara Balassa, also a Holocaust survivor and a physical therapist, died in 2007.

Survivors include two sons, Jerry and Orrin, and four grandchildren.

Burial was in Lindwood Cemetery, Randolph, Mass.

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