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Carol J. Brandon, 81, first Democrat to serve as Lewiston town clerk

Dec. 28, 1936 – April 14, 2018

When Carol J. Brandon became the first Democratic Lewiston town clerk in 1998, she rejected suggestions that she replace the Republican deputy clerks with people from her party.

“She always made the point that it was not a political job," her son, Bob Pokrzyk, said. "As town clerk, she was a record keeper. Her deputies were both from the opposite party and she kept both of them. She said they were the most qualified for the job.”

When she retired on her 77th birthday in 2013, Ms. Brandon recommended one of the deputies, Donna Garfinkle, to succeed her. Garfinkle subsequently won election to the post and is the current town clerk.

“It’s been fun, having that one-on-one contact with people,” Mrs. Brandon told The Buffalo News prior to her retirement. “I will miss the staff and the people I have met on this job.”

She died unexpectedly Saturday in her Town of Lewiston home. She was 81.

“She had tons of friends,” her son said. “I don’t know anybody who had more friends than her.”

Born in Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., she came to Niagara Falls to live with an aunt following the death of her mother. Not long after she graduated in 1954 from Niagara Falls High School, she married Walter Pokrzyk, a serviceman for Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.

She moved to Lewiston in 1963 and worked as a cashier at Tops Market in Lewiston before she was appointed deputy town clerk in 1973.

She served 10½ years as deputy, then worked for a dozen years as administrative assistant for Assemblyman Joseph Pillittere. She ran unsuccessfully for town clerk in 1991 and 1995.

Upon the retirement of Town Clerk Lily C. Taddeo in September 1998, Ms. Brandon was appointed to fill the vacancy, and then won a special election to serve the rest of Taddeo’s unexpired term six weeks later. She went on to be re-elected four times.

She received master’s certification from the Municipal Clerks Institute at Cornell University and was both a registered and certified town clerk.

She was a past president of the Niagara County Clerks Association and served as president of the New York Association of Town Clerks District 10, which encompasses four counties.

The article on her retirement characterized her as “no shrinking wallflower,” adding that she “admits she has been outspoken over the years, but has no regrets about sharing her expertise in town law.”

She also served as campaign treasurer for Assemblywoman Francine DelMonte, who worked with her in Pillittere’s office.

She was the first woman president of the Lewiston All Sports Boosters Club, a Cub Scout den mother and a Girl Scout leader.

In recent years, she was a member of the board of directors of the St. Francis Guild at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital and volunteered at the Pre-K Day Care at the First Presbyterian Church of Lewiston.

Her husband died in 1988. She met her second husband, Robert A. Linn, a retired teacher, when he came to Pillittere’s office for help on an official matter. They would have celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary this week.

Survivors also include two daughters, Karen Ballistrea and Kathy Winkler; another son, Steven Pokrzyk; three step-daughters, Robin Dressel, Jennifer Godown and Janis Linn; a sister, Gloria Donovan; a brother, Gary Brandon; 16 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Friday, April 20, in St. Peter’s Catholic Church, 620 Center St., Lewiston.

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