Dec. 9, 1943 – March 24, 2013
Stanley J. Keysa, whose record of public service includes winning election seven times as supervisor of the Town of Lancaster, died Sunday in Roswell Park Cancer Institute. He was 69.
Mr. Keysa died of a cerebral hemorrhage suffered Saturday afternoon. He also had been receiving treatment for cancer since he was diagnosed with the disease Dec. 19.
Mr. Keysa wore many hats, including those of lawyer, politician, military veteran, judge, business leader, local historian and family man.
Most recently, he served on the Erie Country control board since its inception in 2005. Then-Gov. George E. Pataki created the seven-member board to help stabilize the county’s finances.
Mr. Keysa also was deeply involved in the evolving Niagara Aerospace Museum project.
His name was synonymous with public service in Lancaster. A registered Democrat, he served as town supervisor from 1975 to 1991.
Mr. Keysa’s father, the late Stanley J. Keysa, was Lancaster’s longest-serving supervisor, holding that office for 22 years from 1946 to 1968. The elder Mr. Keysa died while in office in what was his 11th term Aug. 31, 1968, at age 61, and the younger Mr. Keysa regularly worked on his father’s campaigns.
The younger Mr. Keysa served in town and county government for four decades. He was a longtime chairman of the Lancaster Industrial Development Agency starting in 1976 and was chairman of numerous county boards, including the Erie County Sewer District Number 4 Board of Managers and the Erie County Emergency Services Steering Committee.
In 1991, he joined the administration of Dennis T. Gorski as economic development coordinator.
A lifelong resident of Lancaster, Mr. Keysa graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 1960 and was an active alumnus. He graduated from Canisius College in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in history and had served as yearbook editor.
He graduated from Cornell Law School in 1967 and was editor of the Cornell Law Forum. Later in 1967, he was admitted to the New York State Bar.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1970, including a year in Vietnam, where he was a captain with the 52nd and 39th Signal battalions.
He was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service.
After his college and military service, Mr. Keysa returned to private law practice with his brother, the late James Keysa, and was appointed village justice in January 1971.
He won that office twice in village elections before resigning in 1975 to enter the race for town supervisor.
Mr. Keysa’s long list of membership in community organizations includes Post 7275, Veterans of Foreign Wars; the Knights of Columbus; and Lancaster-Depew Moose Club.
He also was a member and former vice president of the Lancaster Historical Society.
Mr. Keysa helped to spearhead the restoration of St. Mary’s Church in Lancaster and the Lancaster Opera House. He wrote a regular column on local history in the Lancaster Bee weekly newspaper.
He had a passion for local history. Retired Town Supervisor Bob Giza said he was in church one Sunday sitting near Mr. Keysa and one of his sons, when the priest asked the congregation if anyone knew where the cornerstone of the church was located.
“Of course no one said anything, and then Stanley leaned over to his son and said, ‘They veneer-bricked it in 1937. It’s behind the veneer brick.’ I mean, who would know that?” said Giza.
Mr. Keysa’s hobbies included historical architecture and its preservation, fine-scale modeling, cobblestone masonry, historical travels and woodworking. His wife of 44½ years, the former Marietta Reilly, said he also had a lifelong passion for flying.
Mr. Keysa and his late brother shared a law office at 5455 Broadway. It is the oldest house in Lancaster, built in about 1831, and is listed on the historical registry.
Survivors, besides his wife, include two sons, Stanley III and Matthew; a daughter, Bridget Polloway; his brother, Thomas; and a sister, Mary Keysa Lexo. A funeral Mass will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in St. Mary of the Assumption Catholic Church, 1 St. Mary’s Hill, Lancaster, after prayers at 8:45 in Zubrick-Amigone Funeral Home, 5615 Broadway.
– Mary Jo Monnin