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Betty L. Kuhn, 94, founded nursery school in East Aurora

Aug. 30, 1924 — Oct. 19, 2018

Betty L. Kuhn discovered her calling when she was a student at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., where she earned a degree in elementary education in 1944.

“She had this natural ability to relate to children,” her son, Eric D., said. “She kind of fell in line with it.”

While raising five children of her own in East Aurora, she began teaching at a nursery school there in the 1960s and became the head teacher.

In the early 1980s, she was one of the founders of Aurora Community Day Care, now East Aurora Community Nursery, and later served as its director.

She died Oct. 19 in Fox Run, Orchard Park. She was 94.

Born Betty Lang in Buffalo, one of four children and the only girl, she was the granddaughter of brush manufacturer Benjamin Swartz, who merged with another brush maker in 1924 to establish Young & Swartz, which now is one of the city’s oldest businesses.

After college, she returned to Buffalo and in 1946 was married to Douglas W. “Doug” Kuhn, the older brother of one of her best friends at Bennett High School.

During the 1960s, she was active with Aurora Children’s Theater, writing and adapting plays, as well as producing and acting in them.

“There was this strong community of women who would put on productions every year,” her son said. “They did this play she wrote, ‘The Magic Fountain,’ and it was a big event.”

Mrs. Kuhn and her husband also hosted many American Field Service exchange students in their home.

“They became the household in Western New York that would get all the kids who didn’t fit initially,” her son said. “When it didn’t work out, they came to us.”

Her experience with foreign students inspired her to become an advocate for peace and to travel with her husband to numerous countries abroad. Her fondest memories came from visiting elementary schools in Africa.

She served for many years on the board of the Bristol Home, an assisted living center for elderly women in Buffalo.

Her husband, an attorney with Hodgson Russ and an East Aurora village justice, died in 2015.

Survivors also include two daughters, Candace K. Niznik and Kari Krakow; a brother, Harry H. Lang; 10 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

A celebration of her life will be held in the spring.

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