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Theresa D'Angelo, 59, entrepreneur who founded three businesses

Oct. 10, 1958 – March 10, 2018

Theresa D’Angelo received a patent in 2015 for a device inspired by the cover for a swimming pool. Her daughter, Madelaine, described it as “a people catcher.”

Her business, Complete Auto Network, involved shipping by rail and she wanted to find a way to protect her workmen from potentially fatal falls from railroad cars. Her invention, which attaches to the rail cars, dramatically improved the safety record among her employees. It now has been adopted by a major rail company.

“If she saw a problem, she just solved it,” her daughter said.

She died last Saturday in her Grand Island home after seven-year battle with metastatic breast cancer. She was 59.

Born in Buffalo, the former Theresa Harf completed Lancaster High School early, when she was only 16. She was a 1979 graduate of Daemen College, where she met her husband of 39 years, Salvatore, a chemist with Niacet Corp. in Niagara Falls.

She went on to earn a master’s degree in education at Niagara University, but instead of teaching, she and her brother, Jack Harf, went to work with their father, Alfred Harf Sr., who owned a trucking company.

In 1989, they established Rail Services, which picked up new automobiles from factories and transported them by rail to sites near the dealers. The company grew to have offices in six cities, shipping vehicles for Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Mazda and Mercedes Benz.

When the company dissolved following her father’s death in 1994, she founded Complete Auto Network, which continued the car transportation service. During the next few years, she devised software to replace the laborious handwritten method of tracking cars as they were being shipped.

In 2005, faced with a need for temporary workers during peak shipping seasons, she founded Complete Personnel Solutions, a staffing and employment agency that grew to serve job seekers in many fields.

“She loved to work and loved being an entrepreneur,” her daughter said.

Due to her health, she closed Complete Auto Network in 2011 and retired from Complete Personnel Solutions three years later. Since 2015, she had been a human relations consultant, assisting small businesses with personnel and compliance issues.

She was a board member of the New York Staffing Association and a member of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and the Women’s Presidents Organization. An advocate for inclusion and diversity, she encouraged young women in their careers.

She enjoyed cooking, entertaining and traveling and was a patron of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Shaw Festival, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and the Canadian Opera Company.

In addition to her husband and daughter, survivors include a son, Michael; her mother, Lorraine Harf; a sister, Valerie Estka; and two brothers, Alfred Harf Jr. and John “Jack” Harf.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 17, in St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, 2100 Baseline Road, Grand Island.

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