Nov. 24, 1924 – Feb. 20, 2019
Anne Lufkin defied expectations when she graduated from South Park High School in 1942.
“Only 4.5 percent of women in the country went to college during World War II because all of them were working in the war effort,” her daughter, Barbara Thorogood, said. “She did what she felt she needed to do. She felt she needed to be a physical education teacher.”
She went on to serve as a teacher and coach of girls’ sports at Kensington High School for 35 years. One of the prize souvenirs of her career was a ball signed by all the members of her 1974 championship softball team.
Mrs. Lufkin died Feb. 20 in Brookdale Williamsville, where she had been a resident for eight years. She was 94.
Born at home on Seneca Street in South Buffalo, Anne M. Messore was the youngest of eight children of Italian immigrants. Her father was one of the stone masons who cut the marble used for Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna.
A standout athlete in high school, in her senior year she led the winning girls’ intramural basketball and bowling teams. She found a mentor in her physical education teacher, Sophia Hofmann, and aspired to follow in her footsteps.
Her daughter Barbara said it was Hofmann who convinced her parents to let her become the first member of her family to attend college. She went to Indiana University, Hofmann’s alma mater, with the help of a loan from her older brother Tony, who worked at Republic Steel. She paid him back when she began teaching at Kensington after earning her bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1946.
Mrs. Lufkin coached girls’ basketball, softball and volleyball at Kensington, taught health education classes and coached the drill team and the cheerleaders. After competition in girls’ sports began among Buffalo high schools in the 1970s, she had championship softball and volleyball teams.
“You gave your best for her,” her other daughter, Mary Huczel, said. “She was there for her teams and she watched their backs.”
A longtime resident of Riverside, she did not drive. She took two buses to go to Kensington. Her daughter Mary said she declined an offer to transfer to Riverside High School because her children were students there.
Students at Kensington dedicated their 1971 yearbook in her honor. She retired in 1981.
She met Robert G. Lufkin, a soldier in her brother Charlie’s Army unit in Europe in World War II, when Charlie brought him to the Messore house on leave for a traditional Italian dinner.
They were married in 1950. Originally a tool and die maker for J. H. Williams Co., he moved up to foreman and positions in the business office before he retired in 1981. He died in 2009.
She and her husband maintained a vacation home in Sherkston Shores, Ont., and spent every summer there.
Mrs. Lufkin was active in All Saints Catholic Church, its Altar and Rosary Society and its Mothers Club. She also was active in the South Park High School Alumni Association. In college, she was a member of Delta Psi Kappa, an honor sorority.
In addition to her daughters, survivors include three grandchildren and many nieces and nephews. One of her nephews is former major league all-star pitcher Johnny Antonelli.
A Mass of Christian Burial was offered Monday, Feb. 25, in All Saints Church, 127 Chadduck Ave.