by Susan Mikula Campbell
"It's your day!" said Wheatfield Legislator Bill Ross as he welcomed 297 senior citizens to the Niagara-Wheatfield High School cafeteria Saturday morning for the 28th annual Roger W. Andrews Senior Citizens Breakfast.
Andrews, who has co-chaired the event with Ross over the years since the first breakfast, said, "I enjoy it every year. I always wonder, though, if we're going to get everything done on time!" He credited his wife with helping get things organized.
Andrews went on to supervise his troop of 67 students, parents, teachers and Niagara County Central Rotarians who volunteered to help serve the hearty breakfast of juice, coffee, eggs, sausage, pancakes and a roll. Ross had to leave to speak at the Niagara County Community College commencement, but Robert Graczyk, president of the Niagara County Central Rotary, which sponsored the event, took over the microphone.
"If you need anything, raise your hand and we'll get it," Graczyk urged.
The seniors were also treated to a door prize drawing with 99 prizes, and each took home a geranium plant.
"Very nice," said Benny Mitchell as he dug into his breakfast. An Alabama resident who transplanted north and has lived in the Town of Niagara since 1937, he's been coming to the breakfast, which thanks seniors for their support of the school district, for the past two years. His children and grandchildren attended N-W, including his son Barry, who came with his father, aunt and father's friend.
"Most of us went to school when Mr. Ross was vice principal here," said Barry. He marveled that Ross still remembered his name despite the years that have passed. "My wife says she doesn't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing." State Assemblyman John Ceretto of Lewiston was on hand to present Andrews with a proclamation from the State Legislature. Also present was Wayne Jagow, county clerk, who noted May is Older Americans Month.
He urged veterans present to enroll in the county's new Thank A Vet program.
"I'm from government, and I've got something for you for free, and it really is free!" he told the seniors, explaining that the Thank A Vet program provides discounts for veterans at a long list of Niagara County businesses.
Veterans from various wars were invited to come up, be thanked and pose for photos. World War II veterans included Bill Gosch, Bud Sprankle, Paul Lassman, Duane Anderson, Edmund Sheliga, John DiLaura, Cosmo San Fratello, Robert Woodcock, Frank Martin, Ross Johnson, and John Pokuzyk.
Rosie the Riveters, who served on the homefront at places like Bell Aerospace and the Wurlitzer defense plant, included Angeline Kulikowski, Catherine (Kitty) Worth and Sylvia Smith.
Korean War vets included Mike Stenzel, Robert Dorato, R.W. Muscatello, Maurice Cooper, Chester Stachura, Duane Anderson, Richard Drosky, Winston Moeller, Michael P. Bolchiccttia, Allen H. Garlock, Kenneth F. Johnson, Richard Siegmann, Charles Miller, Donald H. Miarsden, Steve Cacki and Lyle Baker.
Vietnam veterans included Lee Carpenter, G. Metgen, Jean Marshall, Richard DiPasquale, John W. Smith, Richard Drosky, R. Muscatello, Tom Grimm, Tom Harvey and Richard Capizzi.