June 12, 1924 – May 5, 2013
Bernard J. “Ben” Adamski, of Cheektowaga, retired assistant Buffalo city forester and a World War II prisoner of war who survived the Nazi Black Hunger Death March, died Sunday in Mercy Hospital after a short illness. He was 88.
Born in Buffalo, he was a graduate of Seneca Vocational High School. Drafted at 18, he became an Army Air Forces turret gunner and radio operator, attaining the rank of technical sergeant. His B-26 was bombing railroad bridges in France in the weeks following the Normandy invasion when it was shot down by antiaircraft fire.
He was taken to Stalag Luft IV, a prison camp near the Polish border, then was part of a forced march to Bergen-Belsen, near the Netherlands border, during the depths of Europe’s coldest winter of the 20th century.
The Nazis then marched his group back into Germany after their defeat in the Battle of the Bulge. He weighed just 97 pounds when his group was freed by a British tank battalion in April, a month before the end of the war. He was awarded the Purple Heart and the Air Medal.
Returning to Buffalo, he worked with his family, who operated a grocery and meat store at Bristol and Smith streets, and later opened the Adamski Brothers meat counter in the Broadway Market.
Mr. Adamski joined the city’s Forestry Department in 1961 as a tree man, became a foreman, then was promoted to assistant forester in 1970. He retired in 1985.
Before he became assistant forester, he worked as an usher for the Buffalo Bills, the Buffalo Bisons, the Buffalo Hockey Bisons and at Buffalo Raceway.
He was a life member of SS. Peter & Paul Athletic Club and the Corpus Christi Athletic Club. In recent years, he was active with the prisoner of war group at Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
His wife of 30 years, Irene Kuwik Adamski, died in 1980.
Survivors include two daughters, Mary and Deborah; a son, David; and his companion, Helen Weigand.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Clare Catholic Church, 193 Elk St. at Smith Street.