We said farewell to a long list of leaders, newsmakers and friends in 2012.
They came from all walks of life and had all devoted themselves, in their own ways, some small and others grand, to making the Buffalo Niagara region a better place to live.
Some, such as Paul Kurtz, founder of the Center for Inquiry, and Brother Augustine Towey, who led Niagara University’s theater department for many years, earned national attention, and we basked in their fame.
Others, including Louise Bonner and David Rutecki, were known for their work in the neighborhoods and community.
Some brought development, such as Nathan Benderson, while others brought beauty, such as Margaret M. Martin.
Whether through art, religion, philanthropy, the pursuit of knowledge or devotion to community, they left their mark here in Western New York and will be missed.
Here are some of the notable local deaths of 2012:
Dr. Richard Judelsohn, 69. Medical director of the Erie County Health Department, pediatrician, and jazz DJ. Jan. 15.
Jannie McCarley Peterson, 94. Retired social work supervisor who was the wife of Buffalo’s first acting black mayor, King W. Peterson, and daughter of the Rev. Burnie C. McCarley, the founder of St. John Baptist Church. Jan. 26.
Nathan Benderson, 94. Real estate magnate and major philanthropist who was the largest donor ever to Buffalo’s Jewish community. April 7.
Erna S. Clark, 97. Founder and charter member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Buffalo Chapter. May 19.
Louise Bonner, 71. Considered the go-to person when starting a new neighborhood association in Buffalo, earning her the nickname “Miss Block Club.” Aug. 13.
The Rev. John G. Sturm, 95. Jesuit priest known as the “downtown priest” who gave folksy homilies during Masses at St. Michael Church on Washington Street for many years. Sept. 22.
Joseph J. Illuzzi, 65. Founder of the PoliticsNY.net tip sheet for local and state politics. Sept. 25.
The Rev. Joseph F. Moreno Jr., 54. Popular priest who ministered to the poor and first responders of Buffalo. Oct. 13.
Paul Kurtz, 86. Founder and longtime CEO of the Center for Inquiry, as well as retired philosophy professor at the University at Buffalo. Oct. 20.
Roy Russell, 82, award-winning former chief photographer of The Buffalo News. Oct. 29.
Louis C. Benton, 66. Pioneering African-American member of the Buffalo School Board. Nov. 2.
Catherine Parker, 85. Watercolorist and collaborative artist who was the daughter of artist Charles Burchfield. Nov. 6.
Olga Bajusova, 58. Award-winning illustrator of children’s books and noted printmaker. Nov. 18.
David Rutecki, 64. Four-term Buffalo Common Council member who later became an influential vice president at M&T Bank. Nov. 20.
Brother Augustine Towey, 75. Led Niagara University’s theater department for 42 years and built it into one of the most prestigious undergraduate theater programs in the U.S. Nov. 22.
Robert Swados, 93. Prominent attorney and a founding father of the Buffalo Sabres. Nov. 23.
Carl P. Kowalkowski, 68. Mainstay in Buffalo’s theater and comedy scene. Nov. 24.
Ernie Warlick, 82. Standout of the Buffalo Bills championship teams of the 1960s and first local African American sportscaster. Nov. 24.
Margaret M. Martin, 72. Watercolorist and one of the founders of the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society. Nov. 29.
Joseph E. Todaro, 89. Founder of hugely successful La Nova Pizzeria, community benefactor and long-time target of federal investigators in La Cosa Nostra activities, though never convicted. Dec. 26.