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Advocate, educator, TV host, parade guru & Kiwanian Jerry Wolfgang passes
Long-time Lewiston resident Jerald I. Wolfgang, age 84, passed away Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023, at his Lewiston home. He was a prominent face in education, economic development, political and community affairs in Niagara County over past decades.
Wolfgang was a 65-year member of the Kiwanis Club of Lewiston. He served as president in 1979, and continued to be very active with Kiwanis events over the years. Wolfgang served as advisory chair for the Lewiston club’s annual Niagara County Peach Festival and oversaw its numerous functions. These included organizing the annual Peach Festival parade, the Peach Festival “Taste-off” contest, cheerleading competitions, and managing the event’s numerous entertainment and publicity areas.
He is the man most often credited for the success of Lewiston’s famous festivals and parades.
“The Kiwanis Club of Lewiston suffered a great loss today with the passing of Jerry Wolfgang,” the club noted in a Facebook post on Wednesday. “Jerry was a lifelong member and ‘Mister Peach Festival.’ Jerry organized the parade every year, one of the very finest in WNY, the ‘Peach Taste Off’ recipe contest, recruited sponsors and served as an organizing force in just about every area of the Festival. Jerry will be greatly missed.”
A former educator with the Niagara Falls City School District, Wolfgang also served as an instructor with Erie Community College and Erie 1 BOCES. He was a member of the Niagara County Community College board of trustees at the time of his death.
In February 2018, Joan Wolfgang – Jerry’s wife, and the second-longest-serving member of the Niagara County Community College board of trustees – was honored posthumously for her dedicated work at NCCC. From left: Gina I. Virtuoso, Dr. William Murabito, Jerald I. Wolfgang and William L. Ross. (Submitted)
Heavily involved in political affairs, Wolfgang served as past chair of the Niagara County Republican Committee; as a member of the Town of Lewiston Republican Committee; was a special assistant to former New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller; and was a deputy commissioner for the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. In addition, he served as special assistant to the New York State Assembly.
Wolfgang was active with the Niagara County Center for Economic Development, and served as board vice chairman of the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency.
“We at NCCED will keep Jerry’s friends and family in our thoughts and prayers. May he rest in peace,” the agency said in a release.
In addition, Wolfgang was as an adjunct professor with the Niagara University College of Hospitality, Sports and Tourism Management. He was active in numerous community and civic organizations, including the Lewiston-Porter School District.
Niagara University announced there will be a moment of silence in Jerry’s honor before the men’s basketball game against Manhattan on Friday evening.
The husband of the late Joan Wolfgang, Jerry is survived by his daughter, Lynn (Joseph) Catalano, and by two grandchildren.
Funeral services are set for Friday morning, Jan. 27, at the Mesnekoff Funeral Home in East Amherst. Stream live at 11 a.m. via www.mesnekoff.com. The site also will receive condolences.
Donations in Jerry’s memory may be made to the Buffalo Jewish Federation.
Jerry Wolfgang hosted Lockport Community Television's "Happening in Niagara." He is shown with Eva Nicklas. (Submitted)