As longtime owner and operator of his family business, Parker Komm created durable monuments and memorials for people all over Western New York. Those monuments now also stand as a public commemoration of Mr. Komm's life's work.
"He did it all, from designing and creating memorials to installing them," said his son, Leon.
Mr. Komm, the "son" in the name of the venerable Leon Komm and Son Monument Co., died Dec. 21 in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital after a short illness. A resident of East Amherst, he was 95.
Mr. Komm was born on April 15, 1923, in Buffalo, the third child and first son of Russian immigrants Leon and Rose (Bernstone) Komm. He joined sisters Rita and Marjorie and was the older brother of Thelma.
Mr. Komm's parents operated a small grocery store during the Depression. In the mid- to late 1930s, Leon Komm opened Leon Komm Monuments in a one-room studio on East Delevan Avenue.
In 1941, Parker Komm graduated from Hutchinson Central High School, where he met his wife, Dorothy Bastiani.
His family said that Mr. Komm turned down a scholarship to Harvard University to take a job at Buffalo Arms, which manufactured machine guns during World War II. "He had to help the family put bread on the table, so he couldn't take advantage of the scholarship," said Mr. Komm's son.
In 1945, he began to work with his father at the monument company, which moved farther east on East Delevan to its present location just outside the cluster of cemeteries at Pine Hill in Cheektowaga.
"There is no school for this; he learned it working with his dad," said Mr. Komm's son, Leon. "That's how you do it."
In 1947, Leon Komm surprised his son with a new sign for the business that said "Leon Komm & Son Monument Co.," which indicated that he had been made a partner.
Parker Komm and Dorothy Bastiani married in 1948 in Buffalo. They had three sons, Richard, Leon and Kevin, and a daughter, Mary Lynn.
After his father died in 1953, Mr. Komm and his wife became the owners and operators of Leon Komm and Sons. Some of Mr. Komm's best-known projects were the Italian Carrara marble statues made for the Roman Catholic Diocese, which were installed at the chancery on Lincoln Parkway and later moved to the Main Street offices; the Erie County plaque at what was then Rich Stadium in Orchard Park; and plaques commemorating Joe McCarthy, who was manager of the Yankees during the 1930s and early 1940s.
The family business continues today, with Mr. Komm's son, Leon, and Leon Komm's son, Michael, as owners and operators.
His family said that Mr. Komm enjoyed flying small airplanes with his classmate Frank Butler. He also was an avid photographer. A lifelong learner, he took many night school classes in such varied subjects as Spanish, art, photography, small engine repair and swimming.
He was a lifelong member of Congregation B'nai Shalom, descended from the original Anshe Lubavitz at 115 Pratt St., where his grandparents were founding members.
Mr. Komm also was a member of the Knights of Pythias and performed in two musical plays written by a friend.
"He liked the simple things in life, like picnicking with his wife, children, and close friends," said Mr. Komm's son.
Mr. Komm retired in the 1990s. Mrs. Komm died in June 2008.
Besides his son Leon, Mr. Komm is survived by two sons, Richard and Dr. Kevin; his daughter, Mary Lynn Vujcec; 13 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.
A funeral was held Dec. 23 in Amherst Memorial Chapel. The family suggested memorials to St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, Diskin Orphan Home of Israel, "or any charity helping others."