on May 29, 2013 - 5:52 PM
April 24, 1935 – May 27, 2013
Leonard C. Szymanski, who was elected to two terms as mayor of Sloan, died Monday at his home in Sloan after a short illness. He was 78.
Born in Buffalo, he was a graduate of Seneca Vocational High School and attended Canisius College.
From 1951 to 1986, he was an ironworker for Emil Von Dugen in Cheektowaga, then joined the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority, where he worked in train maintenance until he retired in 1996. He received an NFTA Employee Recognition Award in 1992.
Mr. Szymanski was elected a village trustee in 1996 and served two four-year terms. He also was village recreation director.
He won the mayor’s office in 2005. Running for re-election in a three-way race in 2009, he noted that he brought the village back to financial stability after the previous administration ran up a deficit. He said then that he acquired new equipment and uniforms for the Fire Department, and made recreation improvements. Mr. Szymanski also rebuilt Wrazen Park and started popular concerts in the village parks. In 2010, he resisted a campaign by downsizing advocate Kevin Gaughan to dissolve the village.
“It’s a community of one square mile of people knowing each other,” he said after voters rejected the plan. “We know what we have, and the people don’t want it to stop.”
He stepped down for health reasons last May.
Active in volunteer and community service projects, he was the founder of Cheektowaga Airlanes Football in the 1970s and was a director of the Cheektowaga Southside Little League. He coached many teams. He also coached Depew Legion baseball.
He also was active in St. Andrew Catholic Church. He was social chairman for the Holy Name Society, a lawn fete volunteer and served as an usher. He was a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus.
Survivors include his wife of 53 years, the former Frances Jedrzejewski; three sons, Dr. Brian, Mark and Dave; a sister, Christine Leonarczyk; and four brothers, Vincent Jr., Ted, Ronald and Jim.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Andrew’s Church, Crocker and Reiman streets, Sloan.