Jan. 5, 1927 – Oct. 31, 2012

Joseph P. Kryszak, of Tonawanda, a World War II Army Air Forces veteran, retired building inspector and architectural draftsman, died Wednesday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, after a long battle with congestive heart failure. He was 85.

Mr. Kryszak was born in Blasdell, where he grew up learning auto mechanics from his father. The Kryszaks owned and operated an auto repair shop and built the region’s first ambulance for the Big Tree Volunteer Fire Company, using a reconstructed hearse.

At age 15, in the days before the Federal Aviation Administration, he learned how to fly a prop airplane, solo, from the old Hamburg airfield. He once made a successful emergency landing on Route 20.

Mr. Kryszak lied about his age to join the Army Air Forces to fight in World War II when he was barely 17. He was a co-pilot and navigator, flying missions in the Pacific Theater during the last year of the war.

On returning home, he married Gloria Rodgers, studied architectural design at Niagara University and bought a home on the GI Bill.

During his long career, Mr. Kryszak was the chief building inspector for the Town of Tonawanda.

He also designed residential and commercial structures for many local builders and was an architectural consultant, including supervision of the Children’s Hospital parking expansion project.

But the highlight of his professional career was his association with world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Mr. Kryszak was invited to meet with Wright during the construction of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and later was Wright’s guest at Taliesin West in Arizona.

Wright invited Mr. Kryszak and his family to come live at Taliesin so he could apprentice with the famous architect. Mr. Kryszak had to decline the privilege due to a serious illness in the family .

In his spare time and after retirement, Mr. Kryszak was an avid golfer, golf instructor and boater. He was a longtime member of the Kiwanis Club.

His wife of 37 years died in 1985. He is survived by a daughter, Sandi Gurbacki; two sons, Joseph and Alan; and his companion, Carol Stilwell.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday in Lester H. Wedekindt Funeral Home, 3290 Delaware Ave., Town of Tonawanda.