Aug. 29, 1916 – April 9, 2018
Nellie A. Eliah, a working owner of Taffy’s, a popular hot dog stand in Orchard Park, for 68 years, died Monday in her Orchard Park home after a brief illness. She was 101.
Born in Buffalo, the former Nellie Dewan was the oldest of seven children of Lebanese immigrants. She graduated from Mount St. Joseph Academy, then was a clerk in a federal government office in downtown Buffalo.
After she and her husband, Toufic, whose nickname was Taffy, were married in 1949, they opened the hot dog stand at the Five Corners at Orchard Park Road and Southwestern Boulevard. Her son, Richard, and his wife, Susie, now operate Taffy’s from March to November, along with a mobile milk shake truck.
“She was working there every day, wiping trays, until she was 101,” her son said. “There were times when the help didn’t show up and she just worked away. That’s how she kept busy. She used to tell people she was overworked and underpaid.”
She and her five sisters remained a close-knit group throughout their lives and were known as “The Golden Girls.”
A longtime resident of North Buffalo, Mrs. Eliah moved to Orchard Park seven years ago. She enjoyed visiting local attractions such as the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens and casinos.
Asked about the key to her long life by a WGRZ-TV reporter at her 100th birthday party at Taffy’s, she replied, “Have a good body. No yelling or screaming and control yourself at all times.”
Her husband died in 1998.
In addition to her son, survivors include a daughter, Agnes Eliah Hanifin; two sisters, Teresa Thomas and Josephine Daher; and three grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday, April 14, in St. Joseph University Catholic Church, 3269 Main St.