Oct. 27, 1927 – Nov. 2, 2017
Thomas E. Wojtaszek, who founded a political dynasty in both his professional and personal life, died on Thursday under hospice care in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst. He was 90.
Mr. Wojtaszek and his wife of 64 years, the former Lillian Pope, are parents to 12 children, including those who followed their father's footsteps into politics and the law. The couple lived in the same three-bedroom, one-bath house in North Tonawanda for 61 years.
Mr. Wojtaszek was a founding member of the Niagara County Conservative Party and served on its executive board for more than 50 years. He also ran for the State Senate in the 1970s.
His son Henry Wojtaszek, the former Niagara County GOP chairman, said his father loved the law.
Another son, Paul, a former Niagara County legislator, is a State Supreme Court justice in Buffalo and his daughter Kathleen Wojtaszek-Gariano is a Family Court judge in Niagara County. His daughter-in-law, spouse of Henry Wojtaszek, is the Niagara County district attorney.
"He liked law from its pure sense. He thought it was the great equalizer. He always rooted for the underdog," said Henry Wojtaszek. "He was humble and kind-hearted ... a gentleman in a rough and tumble world."
Mr. Wojtaszek was born in Niagara Falls and attended its public schools, graduating in 1945 from Niagara Falls High School. He served in the Army at the close of World War II and then moved to Vineland, N.J. to pursue a career in radio announcing. He moved to New York City and attended Brooklyn College, but returned to Western New York and received his bachelor's degree from Canisius College.
He met his future wife in graduate history class at Canisius, and they were married on Aug. 22, 1953. He worked his way through law school at the University of Buffalo with factory jobs and teaching high school. He completed the bar exam in 1957, while raising his growing family.
According to his family, Mr. Wojtaszek spent some of the happiest years of his career practicing law at Dixon and DeMarie Attorneys at Law in Buffalo. He retired in 1992 at age 65 and spent his retirement visiting his 12 children, 26 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren around the country.
A devout Catholic, he also was known for his wisdom, integrity and humor.
He took great joy in family life and was a fan of big band, swing and polka music.
In addition to his wife and the children mentioned, Mr. Wojtaszek is survived by daughters Anne Lee, Madonna Wojtaszek-Healy, Joan Ludewig, Mary Kaufman, Pauline Wojtaszek-Evans, Antoinette and Maureen Leffler, and sons Thomas E. Jr. and James.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Monday in Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, 64 Center St., North Tonawanda.