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Aug. 4, 1925 – Oct. 14, 2012
Richard J. Piontek, of Cheektowaga, a longtime business, union and political leader, died Sunday in Buffalo General Medical Center. He was 87.
Born in Buffalo, he attended McKinley Vocational High School. He also attended Erie County Technical Institute, where he majored in labor studies. In 1973, he graduated from the Buffalo Diocesan Labor/Management Program.
Mr. Piontek served overseas in the Army during World War II. In 1946, he was hired by Pillsbury Co. as a sweeper. He was later promoted to the position of master mechanic.
Mr. Piontek served as a union steward and was later elected president/business representative and financial secretary of Local 36, American Federation of Grain Millers, a position he held from 1961 to 1970.
Mr. Piontek also served as treasurer of the American Federation General Miller Enterprises Credit Union and was a longtime executive board member of the American Federation of Grain Millers Retiree Council.
In 1973, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller appointed him to the position of assistant industrial commissioner for the Buffalo region of the state Department of Labor. He also served as chairman of the Western New York Jobs for Veterans Task Force and chairman of the Western New York Veterans Task Force. In 1976, he was appointed director of Group Health Inc., Western New York region. In 1998, he retired as the company’s vice president of marketing.
Mr. Piontek also served as vice chairman of the Erie County Republican Party, both chairman and secretary of the Cheektowaga Republican Committee and president of the Erie County Republican Town Chairmen’s Association. In addition, he was a former state Republican committeeman.
He owned a cocktail lounge in Buffalo’s Black Rock neighborhood, was a licensed real estate agent and a former partner in Alidi Travel.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, the former Wanda Utnik, and two daughters, Eileen LaRusch and Stephanie Palumbo.
A Mass Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church, 180 George Urban Blvd., Cheektowaga.