April 12, 1941 – April 28, 2019
Justine S. LeFauve was an avid gardener who was active in garden clubs for decades.
But when she was raising her three children on Baker Road in Orchard Park, the front yard of the family farmhouse wasn't a garden showplace. It was a soccer field, because her youngest son, Steven, was a soccer player who needed room to practice. "She gave up her garden space so I could have my own soccer field," he said.
"We had a picture-perfect childhood," he said. "She had many interests and was active in many areas, but her kids and her family were always a priority."
Mrs. LeFauve died April 28, 2019, in Father Baker Manor in Orchard Park after a period of declining health following a stroke last year. She was 78.
She was born Justine Schutta in Lackawanna, the daughter of Floyd R. and Elizabeth (Nowakowski) Schutta and younger sister of Diane. Floyd Schutta operated a grocery on South Park Avenue at Parkview and was president of the Lackawanna Food Merchants.
Mrs. LeFauve graduated from McKinley Elementary School in Lackawanna and was a 1958 graduate of Orchard Park High School. In high school, she met her husband-to-be, Donald F. LeFauve, when she was a freshman and he was a senior.
"All the senior girls liked Don, but he liked my sister," said Mrs. LeFauve sister, Diane J. Chrisman, former director of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. "He looked just like Paul Newman, so you can understand why."
The two married in 1961 in the Orchard Park Presbyterian Church. He worked as a railroad engineer.
When her children were young, Mrs. LeFauve was a stay-at-home mother, but joined the Eggert Road Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization and became president. "She always threw herself wholeheartedly into any endeavor or into any group that she championed," said her sister, "so she usually ended up being the president of that organization."
In the mid-1980s, Mrs. LeFauve joined the workforce as executive director of the Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce. In the late 1980s, she was appointed by the Orchard Park Town Board to chair a committee studying how to establish a townwide recycling program, an early and long-standing interest.
After leaving the chamber of commerce, she worked part-time as secretary to the Orchard Park Economic Development Committee and for the Orchard Park Emergency Disaster Committee.
Mrs. LeFauve became interested in charter schools in the 2000s while working in the office of Stieglitz Snyder Architecture on the Joint Schools Construction Board. "She was extremely proud of that," said her sister. "That was the highlight of her professional career." She later worked as secretary to the boards of Enterprise Charter School and another charter in Niagara Falls.
Mrs. LeFauve loved planting and maintaining cottage gardens of annuals, perennials and herbs. She was past president and 30-year member of the Orchard Park Garden Club and past president of the Eighth District Federated Garden Clubs. She was also a member of the Western New York Herb Study Group.
She was a National Garden Clubs master flower show judge emeritus and had served as a member of the Erie County Agricultural Society Creative Arts Board.
"She was extremely involved with local flower shows," said her sister, "frequently a judge, and she offered training to up-and-coming gardeners. She was very anxious to share her knowledge and her love of gardening."
A few years ago, Mrs. LeFauve founded a new garden club, the South Towns Gardeners, who planted the garden at the flagpole outside the Chestnut Ridge Park Casino.
She was one of the founding trustees of the Chestnut Ridge Conservancy, dedicated to the improvement of Chestnut Ridge Park. She served for several years as secretary and for two years as president of that group and received the Conservancy’s Raymond A. Fabiniak Guardian Award in 2015.
She also was a founding board member of the Orchard Park Council of the Arts.
For years, her sister teased her by saying that anyone who didn't know her address could just write "Justine" and "Orchard Park, N.Y." on an envelope "and she would get the letter; that's how well-known she was," she said.
Her husband, Donald F. LeFauve, died on Jan. 6, 2015.
Besides her son, Steven, and her sister, Mrs. LeFauve is survived by another son, Kevin; a daughter, Kimberly Moore-LeFauve; and three grandchildren.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in Orchard Park Presbyterian Church, 4369 S. Buffalo St., Orchard Park.