March 1, 1936 – Aug. 25, 2019
Dr. Ronald F. Grazen, a Lancaster dentist who was an outstanding student athlete in his youth, died Sunday in his home in Clarence Center. He was 83.
Born in North Tonawanda, he was a high achiever as a boy. He played the piano, sang in recitals and rebuilt car engines. To earn money, he delivered The Buffalo Evening News and prescriptions for Harvey’s Drug Store on Webster Street in North Tonawanda. During the summer, he and friends put on impromptu water ski shows in the Niagara River, jumping ramps and running slalom courses.
At North Tonawanda High School, where he was president of the Honor Society and graduated in 1953, he played drums in the marching band and was a football and basketball player. He also had the lead role in the senior play, “Father of the Bride.”
His greatest achievements were in track and field. Known as “Rapid Ron” as a sprinter in high school, he was a member of coach Emory Fisher’s undefeated track and field team at the University of Buffalo.
He was state champion in the 220-yard dash, was ranked first in the state and among the top 25 in the nation. His UB long jump record of nearly 24 feet stood until the late 1990s.
After graduating from UB Dental School in 1959, he enlisted in the Air Force and attained the rank of captain. He served for two years as a dentist at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Dr. Grazen began his dental practice in Lancaster in 1961 at Columbia Central Medical Center. Known as “The Gentle Dentist,” he went on to purchase the facility and expand it, doubling its capacity.
He also did extensive work for the St. Apollonia Guild, providing free dental care for priests and the needy. He maintained his practice for more than 44 years.
He was a life member of the American Dental Association, the Eighth District Dental Society, the Erie County Dental Society and the Erie County Medical Arts Society, an organization of physicians and dentists of Polish descent.
A longtime Depew resident, he was a charter member of the Chestnut Hill Country Club in Darien and was its first president. He also was a member of the WNQ (We Never Quit) Golf League and the Buffalo City Dental Bowling League.
He continued to pursue two of his boyhood passions as an adult. A talented vocalist, he performed locally for many years as a member of The Singing Doctors. He also took yearly family vacations with his 18-foot 1964 Cayuga wooden ski boat, starting in 1965 on the lakes at Inlet in the Adirondacks and lakes in Ontario. He concluded a visit to Seventh Lake in Inlet three weeks ago.
In retirement, he also enjoyed gardening and pencil and architectural drawing.
Active in St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church in Lancaster, he was a eucharistic minister for nearly 40 years and took part in men's retreats and many ministries.
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, the former Marcia Hopper; four sons, Gregory, Dr. Jeffrey, Dr. Mark and Dr. Christopher; a daughter, Tracy Glynn; a sister, Maxine Nesper; and 18 grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 29, in St. Mary of the Assumption Church, 1 St. Mary’s Hill, Lancaster.