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Married 57 years, Edward and Margaret Raiff die within days of each other

Edward J. Raiff - Feb. 18, 1929 - July 15, 2018

Margaret T. Raiff - March 2, 1931 - July 23, 2018

It was love at first sight for Edward J. Raiff when he met his future wife, Margaret T. Watson, when they were teenagers in Kenmore.

The sister of his best friend's girlfriend, she needed some convincing. Both devout Christians, it was their religions that kept them from marrying. Mr. Raiff was Catholic, and Mrs. Raiff was Presbyterian.

"Neither party would concede which church they would get married in," said their son, Matthew E. Raiff.

Finally, after 11 years, they solved that problem by eloping, starting a lifetime together that ended when Mr. Raiff, 89, died unexpectedly at their Williamsville home July 15. Mrs. Raiff, 87, died eight days later in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. They had been married 57 years.

Mrs. Raiff helped plan her husband's funeral, but within three days she was in hospice care.

"Their marriage, you don’t find them like that. That is the definition of devotion," their son said. "That's the only way they understood how to live."

Mr. Raiff was a partner for 53 years at Urban Raiff & Sons, the industrial kitchen supply firm started by his father, Urban, and operated by Urban's four sons.

He was a graduate of St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute and Canisius College, and he served in the Marines during the Korean conflict.

An outdoorsman who could fix anything, Mr. Raiff also was an accomplished trap shooter with the Buffalo Shooting Club.

Mrs. Raiff was a graduate of Kenmore West High School, and worked as a bookkeeper at Rugby Knitting Mills. She took time off to raise her children, Matthew and Jeannie A., who died when she was 19. Mrs. Raiff later worked in the office at Kenmore East High School. She was known for her Scottish meat pies and shortbread, made from recipes handed down from her grandfather's bakery in Scotland.

She was very active in Kenmore Presbyterian Church and Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, singing in the choir and teaching Sunday school.

Their religion remained important to the couple. Their son found them a house in Orchard Park that was next to Nativity of Our Lord Catholic Church and across the street from Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, so both could walk to church.

"They read the Bible every night – and argued about who was right, up until the very end," Matthew Raiff said.

The Raiffs also tried to help any person down on their luck or in need of a little support, and they often talked about that over dinner.

"The dinner table never consisted of what do we want to do, it was always, what can we do for others," Matthew Raiff said.

In addition to their son and two grandchildren, Mr. Raiff is survived by a brother, Jack; and Mrs. Raiff is survived by her sister, Helen deGuehery.

A memorial service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Friday at Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, 4363 S. Buffalo St.

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