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Kellyann Simon, 67, teacher of gifted and exceptional children

Kellyann Simon, 67, teacher of gifted and exceptional children

Oct. 29, 1952 – Jan. 21, 2020

Kellyann Simon, a teacher of gifted and exceptional children, died Jan. 21 in Hospice Buffalo, Cheektowaga, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. She was 67.

Born in Hornell, she came with her family to the Tonawandas in the late 1950s when her father, Clemenceau “Kelly” Simon, became a city editor with The Tonawanda News. He later was an assistant city editor at The Buffalo News.

Ms. Simon was a 1970 graduate of North Tonawanda High School, where she played clarinet in the marching band.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from SUNY Fredonia in 1974 and completed a master’s degree in education and remedial education at the University at Buffalo in 1978. She later was certified in gifted and talented education at SUNY Buffalo State.

She began her career at St. Francis School in the Town of Tonawanda, went in 1981 to St. Amelia’s School in the Town of Tonawanda, then in 1985 to Calasanctius School in Buffalo.

She was one of three teachers hired by the North Tonawanda School District in 1986 for its new program for gifted and talented students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

She worked with gifted students for 15 years at Drake Elementary School and taught third and fifth grade, retiring in 2010.

She also tutored elementary school students privately and worked part-time with the North Tonawanda recreation department and the Classified Advertising Department at The Buffalo News.

An Amherst resident for 20 years, she moved to Niagara Falls in 2010 and recently lived in East Amherst and New Port Richey, Fla.

An avid golfer, she was a member and secretary of golf clubs locally and in Florida. The sport brought her together with her fiance, Ken Ruggiero, a golf instructor, physical education teacher and golf columnist for the Niagara Gazette, who also shared her enthusiasm for the Beatles and the Buffalo Bills. He died in 2015.

She was a spelling bee champion as a girl, enjoyed playing Scrabble with her parents and became a formidable Words With Friends opponent online, where she played without cheating.

Her sister Rita Penque wrote, “She made each person feel special, planning mystery trips and special events and attending her nieces’ and nephews’ functions. Always available to her family and friends, she encouraged them in their endeavors to the day she passed.”

Survivors include another sister, Mary Buryta, and nieces and nephews.

A graveside service was held Jan. 25 in White Chapel Memorial Park, Amherst.

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