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Jan. 20, 1925 – June 22, 2014

Betty Mistretta, a breast cancer survivor for 44 years, died Sunday in Niagara Hospice, Lockport, after a short illness. She was 89.

Born in Buffalo, the former Betty Kelschenbach grew up on the city’s East Side. She was a graduate of Fosdick-Masten Park High School and the Bryant & Stratton Business Institute.

In the ’50s and ’60s, she was a homemaker and was active in the PTA, as a den mother for Cub Scouts and in church groups, such as the Christian Guild and Women’s Bible Study. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, she was a volunteer at Niagara Lutheran Home, where her mother was a resident.

When she was stricken with breast cancer in 1970, she underwent a full mastectomy. After she recovered, she joined the breast cancer survivor group Encore and became one of its clothing models, primarily in swimsuits.

She worked for Victor Rental and Sales as office manager for the Party Division, retiring in 1985.

In retirement, she and her husband traveled the nation and were active in the Family Motor Coach Association.

She also joined the Frustrated Maestros, a musical clown group, and entertained at special events and parades as Bera-Can Clown.

Mrs. Mistretta had a passion for theater, musicals, parties and entertaining. She also enjoyed cooking, sewing, crocheting and gardening.

“She was all of 4-foot-9,” said her daughter, Denise Bryant, “but she was the biggest spirit in the room.”

In the mid-1970s, she moved to the Town of Tonawanda and was married in 1977 to Anthony T. Mistretta. She and her husband moved to Lockport in 2009 to be closer to her daughter.

Her son, Michael E. Whitman, died in 2003.

In addition to her husband and her daughter, survivors include 14 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 1 p.m. Thursday in St. Andrew Catholic Church, 1525 Sheridan Drive at Elmwood Avenue, Town of Tonawanda.