on December 30, 2013 - 5:32 PM
, updated December 30, 2013 at 5:44 PM
Nov. 16, 1969 – Dec. 27, 2013
Patricia E. Kuzara, marketing director for Cellino & Barnes law firm and founder of a foundation to help families with cancer, died Friday in Buffalo. She was 44.
The former Patricia Woods was a graduate of Silver Creek High School. She earned a business degree from Bryant & Stratton College and worked as a paralegal for Hiscock & Barclay before going to Cellino & Barnes.
She worked on the Cellino & Barnes campaign that exhorts clients to call with the line: “Don’t Wait, Call 8!”
Mrs. Kuzara, a nonsmoker, responded to her lung cancer diagnosis by creating a foundation to help people pay for the heavy financial costs of the disease, said her husband, Jason Kuzara.
His wife hoped to get the kind of attention for lung cancer that breast cancer gets. “Her dream of her foundation: She would be the Susan G. Komen of lung cancer,” Kuzara said.
She named it “As I Live and Breathe.” Before she died, she tried to use some of its funds to cover costs so a fellow hospice patient wouldn’t have to move.
“Patty said, ‘Get it. Go to the bank. Pull it out,’ ” her husband remembered. While the man moved anyway, Kuzara made a habit of helping people in need. “She was one for the books,” he said. When things were bad, “she still put everybody else in front of her.”
Once when they were leaving Roswell Park Cancer Institute with the news that there was nothing more the doctors could do, she gave a panhandler $20, saying it would bring a little bit of happiness. A hospice aide who fretted about not being able to afford the Ugg boots her daughters wanted, was surprised when Mrs. Kuzara had her husband buy them before Christmas.
“The look on the aide’s face, that’s all Patty wanted,” Jason Kuzara said.
The couple, who were married for 23 years, met at a band audition. Jason was trying out for drummer, and his future wife was the singer. “It just clicked,” he said.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by twin daughters Kayla and Kaitlyn; a son, Austin; her father, Daniel Woods; two sisters, Kathy Hilton and Tammy Johnson Woods; and three brothers, Daniel and Timothy Woods and Michael VanWie.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today in Resurrection of Life Fellowship Church, 2145 Old Union Road, Cheektowaga.