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Longtime Lackawanna High School math teacher David Olivieri dies after contracting Covid-19

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David M. Olivieri
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His family and friends always knew how important David M. Olivieri was to them: a loving son, husband and brother, devoted father, and a kind and helpful person.

What they didn't fully realize was how important he was to the hundreds of people he knew, including his math students at Lackawanna High School and the basketball players he had coached at Erie Community College and Lackawanna.

"David possessed many wonderful attributes," said Ralph Galanti, a longtime friend of Olivieri's parents, Gene M. and Angeline M. Olivieri. He was hardworking, attentive and helpful to his parents and two brothers. "He was loyal, always offering to help his friends in their time of need, no matter how tired or busy he was," Galanti said.

Olivieri, of West Falls, died Nov. 13 in Mercy Hospital of Buffalo after contracting Covid-19 in late October, complicated by a brain hemorrhage and MRSA. He was 50.

According to his family, Olivieri came home with a slight fever from school on Oct. 26 and tested positive for Covid-19. He was cared for by Renee, his wife of 26 years, until his condition worsened significantly a week later. She called an ambulance, which took him to St. Joseph's Hospital on Nov. 2.

Despite treatment, Olivieri began to suffer from kidney failure and tests showed that he also had MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant infection. After suffering a brain hemorrhage, he was transferred on Nov. 11 to Mercy Hospital, where he had brain surgery.

He was on life support when his wife was able to visit him at the end, said Diana Harfouche, his wife's sister. "That's really the big sadness, that we can't be with our loved ones," she said.

His wake and funeral showed the family "how many people knew him, loved him, how many lives he touched," said Harfouche.

Olivieri had an associate degree from ECC, a bachelor's degree from the University at Buffalo and a master's degree in teaching from SUNY Buffalo State. He worked in the athletic department at ECC before being hired by the Lackawanna School System in 2001.

"My whole family – and there's a lot of us, we have a huge family – we are all heartbroken over this," said Harfouche.

In a statement, the Lackawanna Teachers Federation said, "You were a positive influence to our students and a larger-than-life presence in so many ways, including a great friend."

The Olivieris had a daughter, Angalene Antoinette, who was stillborn.

Besides his parents and his wife, the former Renee Shady, Olivieri is survived by a daughter, Francesca Teresa "Tessa" Olivieri; and two brothers, Gene M. Jr. and Dean M. Olivieri.

A Mass of Christian Burial was said Wednesday in Our Lady of Victory Basilica.

The Buffalo News is publishing stories about Buffalo area people who have died due to Covid-19. Please contact The News at if you know of someone whose story we should tell.


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I have a master's degree in public affairs reporting from Ohio State University's Kiplinger program. My 2001 First Sunday story "Fatal Fixation" won an AASFE top prize and was nominated by The News for a Pulitzer.

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