In Loving Memory of Leonard S. Sikora

In Loving Memory of Leonard S. Sikora

In Loving Memory of Leonard S. Sikora

Leonard S. Sikora who was a past board member for many years, passed away on June 10th, 20118 at 90 years old.  The Network in Aging of WNY was proud to announce that he was the first time recipient of the “2006 Jerry Flaschner Humanitarian Award”, an award established for local, state and national contributions to the field of aging.

Born in Buffalo, he was a 1946 graduate of Seneca Vocational High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in 1950 from Buffalo State Teachers College and his master’s degree in education from the University of Buffalo in 1957.

Mr. Sikora began his 40-year career in the Buffalo schools as an industrial arts teacher at Kensington High School, School 53 and School 84 before becoming assistant principal at Bennett High School in 1964.

He was named principal at Bennett in 1969 and was appointed principal of his alma mater, Seneca Vocational, in 1975. He retired in 1990.

He was a former vice president of the Buffalo Retired Teachers Association and a vice president for membership of the New York State Retired Teachers’ Association. He also was a former president of the state organization’s Western Zone and chairman of its Founders Fund.

Active in issues affecting seniors and retirees for many years, he was regional advocacy coordinator for the AARP, a member of the advisory committee for Erie County Senior Services and a member of the board of directors of the Network in Aging. In the 1980s, he was active in Gov. Mario Cuomo’s Skilled Workers Emeritus Program.

He also was chairman of the Polish Arts Scholarship Foundation and established a scholarship fund in his name with the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo.

He was given the Ampol Eagle Citizen of the Year Award in Education in 1975 and received the Buffalo State College Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2008. He was presented with the Buffalo State Foundation Chairman’s Recognition Award in 2005.

AARP recognized him with its Andrus Award for communication and health issues advocacy. The Network in Aging presented the Jerry Flaschner Humanitarian Award to him in 2006 While on a summer job as a clothing salesman in college, he met his wife, the former Irene A. Grudzien, a bookkeeper, who was working in the budget office of a men’s clothing store.  Residing in Amherst, they would have celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary this past July. 

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In Loving Memory of Robert (Bob) Wills

In Loving Memory of Robert (Bob) Wills

On September 21, the Network in Aging lost one of its greatest supporters, Bob Wills. Bob was a longtime member of the Network and served two terms as the President of the Board of Directors from 2008-2012. In addition to being the President, and then Past President of the Board for four years, Bob was a co-chair of the Membership Committee. As the co-chair he, almost single-handedly, organized and coordinated the Network with the Network events for many years. He had a knack for pairing agencies to highlight their businesses. In 2006 Bob was an integral part in the creation of the Network’s Jerry Flaschner Humanitarian Spirit Award Scholarship Fund which continues today to benefit students in the field of aging.

Bob was a very accomplished man. As quiet and laid back as Bob was, you may be surprised to see the long list of his accomplishments. An Eagle Scout, Bob was a 1976 graduate of Dunkirk High School. He was the treasurer of his class for all four years, earning letters in varsity football and track. Bob received an appointment to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point where he represented his company in the Sandhurst Military Skills Competition. Graduating in 1980 as a Second Lieutenant, Bob served five years in the Army Corps of Engineers and graduated from the United States Army Ranger School, an elite combat leadership course.

Bob left his military career with the rank of Captain and began his civilian career as a Project Manager in Civil Engineering for Mobil Corporation. In this role, bob traveled extensively throughout Asia, Great Britain, and New Zealand, living internationally for several years. Bob’s adventurous spirit always resulted in amusing and entertaining travel stories.

After taking time out to receive a Master of Business Administration from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School in 1992, Bob started his first business called Wills Lawn & Landscaping, an organic landscaping business that he operated for 10 years. Continuing his education, Bob later earned his designation as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and started a second business as an independent Financial Planner associated with Waddell & Reed. His financial investment expertise combined with his reputation for integrity and relentless work ethic allowed Bob to build a highly successful client portfolio. Literally hundreds of clients benefitted from Bob’s financial acumen. Bob hosted his own radio show on Buffalo Station WLVL for several years, focused on Financial Planning. He was a very courageous and dedicated person, continuing to serve his clients while fighting his illness to the end.

When talking to Bob, whether it be for business or pleasure, he never let the focus of the conversation be about himself or his illness. Unless you knew about his illness, you would never guess that he was going through the fight of his life.

Not that Bob knew, or if he did, he made light of it, he was a mentor to many, not only with the Network in Aging but in life too. He willingly shared his love and knowledge, gave guidance without giving the answer, he advised with kindness and forethought and he always did this with gentleness and goodwill. To say, to know Bob is to love Bob, is an understatement. He was loved and admired by many and will be greatly missed. Our condolences go out to all of Bob’s family and friends. A celebration of Bob’s life will be held on November 9, 2018 at the Ebenezer United Church of Christ, 630 Main Street, West Seneca, NY beginning at 11:00am.

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Clifford Whitman

Clifford Whitman

The aging services network of Western New York lost a pioneer and innovator in the field of aging with the loss of Clifford Whitman.  Clifford E. Whitman, died on July 28, 2015 at the age of 80.

Cliff Whitman earned his Master of Social Work from Syracuse University and served as Erie County’s first Commissioner on Aging from 1971-1988.  During his tenure as Commissioner, Cliff helped lay the foundation for countless critical services to older adults such as congregate dining, Going Places transportation, home-delivered meals, case management, adult protective services, legal assistance, and many other community-based services that helped seniors maintain their independence.

In the early 1980s, Cliff worked with Dr. Evan Calkins and other aging advocates to develop the framework and mission of the Network in Aging of WNY, Inc. and he was elected as the organization’s third president.  In 1993, the Network in Aging presented Cliff with the Dr. Evan Calkins Meritorious Service Award.

Over the years, Cliff earned the distinction of being a strong advocate for the elderly and served on many local boards including Legal Services for the Elderly (now Center for Elder Law & Justice) which presented him with their Vision Award in 2006.  He was recognized nationally and elected president of the Advisory Committee of the Columbia University Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology.  Following his years of service as Commissioner of Senior Services, Cliff served as Executive Director of a local not for profit, Concerned Ecumenical Ministry from 1989-1995 and following that he became the Director of the Bristol Home Assisted Living facility.

Cliff’s passion for serving the elderly did not diminish in his later years.  During his semiretirement, he worked as a part-time social worker for Amherst Meals on Wheels and enjoyed serving as a field supervisor for students pursuing their Master of Social Work.  His passion for community services also continued as he devoted countless hours as a board member and grounds manager for his beloved Graycliff Conversancy.

For over 45 years, Cliff made an indelible mark on the field of aging and long-term care and the Network in Aging is proud to recognize his lifetime of achievements.

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Karen A. Andruschat

Karen A. Andruschat

Karen A. Andruschat, RN, long-time member and friend of the Network in Aging passed away on March 6, 2013.

With an infectious smile and stories to tell, Karen A. Andruschat cared for people in need no matter what her job was.  A registered nurse, she cared for the elderly in an East Aurora nursing home and later ran a People Inc. group home for disabled people on Grand Island. She was more widely known for her leadership at the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care, where she retired as director of clinical marketing in 2005.

  1. Donald Schumacher, president and chief executive of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in Alexandria, VA said … “Karen had the kind of personality she could get along with just about anybody. Karen was known to talk to groups as small as five and as large as 500 to educate doctors and the public about Hospice. She succeeded in talking to families without frightening them about a Hospice referral and she was an incredibly good teacher and a strong advocate for patients and families.”

Born Karen A. Rabe in South Buffalo, she graduated from South Park Hight School and Mercy Hospital School of Nursing.  Karen’s role at the Network in Aging included Communication Committee chair and serving on the board of directors.

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Nancy A. Tulumello

Nancy A. Tulumello

Nancy A. Tulumello, LMSW, a long-time friend, co-worker, and champion passed away on March 15, 2013 after a courageous battle with cancer.

Nancy was a senior social worker at the Research Foundation at the University at Buffalo.  Nancy earned a bachlor’s degree at D’Youville College and a master’s in social work from the University at Buffalo.  She worked for the Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Center and Kaleida Health Geriatric Center of Western New York.

Nancy compassionately and professionally gave her extraordinary talents to those facing memory impairing illness, by coaching, comforting and supporting thousands of people along the way.  For those of you who knew Nancy, you came to understand that her reliability, ingenuity, strength and expertise in the field was critical.  Her strength, heart, and warmth were invaluable to those she touched.  Family members said that “through her work on the Erie County Caregivers Coalition and the Network in Aging and as a certified social worker,” she championed the right and needs of caregivers.

Nancy taught countless social workers through her teaching at the State University of New York at Buffalo.  Her reach was boundless, her caring without limits and her legacy of care and excellence were invaluable.

Nancy received the Carl Naish Award in appreciation for her dedication to Millard Fillmore College students.  She was also honored by the Alzheimer’s Association in 2011 with the W.P. Gillick Quality of Life Award.  Nancy’s role at the Network in Aging included Secretary, Nominating Committee Chair and serving on the board of directors.

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