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July 5, 1927 – July 29, 2013

John S. Vecchio, of the Town of Tonawanda, a retired BOCES special education teacher who pioneered work-study programs for his students, died Monday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst. He was 86.

Born in Buffalo, he was a graduate of Grover Cleveland High School and served in the Army during World War II.

Returning from service, he worked at factory jobs and was an accountant before enrolling at Buffalo State Teachers College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial arts and a master’s degree in special education.

Mr. Vecchio taught at East High School in 1962-63, then taught special education at the West Seneca State School from 1963 to 1966. He went on to teach special education at the Erie II BOCES LoGuidice Center in Fredonia from 1966 until he retired in 1988.

While at the LoGuidice Center, he created an innovative work-study program for special needs students, spending one day a week going out to supervise them at their workplaces. He also traveled to Albany to push for legislation to encourage the hiring of special needs people.

A Fredonia resident while teaching at the LoGuidice Center, for a few years he and his wife owned and operated a health food store on Main Street.

A handyman with a talent for fixing things, he also enjoyed art, music and his family. He also had a lifelong passion for health and fitness.

His first wife of three years, the former Isabella Radoani, died in 1954. He married the former Mary Rose Sfratta in 1958.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a son, John A.; four daughters, Mary Louise, Isabelle, Roseann and Ann; and a sister, Carmella Volpe.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:15 a.m. Saturday in St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Delaware Avenue and Victoria Boulevard, Kenmore.