Blase L. LaDuca

LaDUCA, Blase L. ~ The Buffalo News/Saturday, December 5, 2020
December 2, 2020, at age 85 due to Covid-19. Beloved husband of the late Joan A. (nee Mancuso) LaDuca; devoted father of Michelle (Steven) Mathews, Cheryl LaDuca and the late Blase R. (Raechel) LaDuca and Michael LaDuca; loving Papa of Joelle, Anthony, Blase, Michael, Alivia, Frankie and Joanna; dear brother of Salvatore “Sam” (Celine) LaDuca, Mary Ann (John) Dietrick and the late Agnes and Frank LaDuca; also survived by nieces, nephews and his loving companion, Jo Jo LaMantia and her family. The family will be present to receive friends on Sunday, December 6, 2020, from 2-5 PM at the GRECO FUNERAL HOME, 2909 Elmwood Ave., Kenmore. Private Funeral and Entombment will be held at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Blase’s memory to Federation of Italian-American Societies of WNY, Statue Fund, PO Box 147, Buffalo, NY 14225-014
My wife Angie Bongiovanni and I knew Blase from the 1950s, but it was after we bought our cottage on 'the Hill' at Crystal Beach that we really grew to know him well, and in recent years he was a regular with some of the Per Niente Guys' "Oldest Established Permanent Floating Wednesday Night Dinner Group".  Though he never owned a place at the Beach, Blase was a 40-plus-years tenant of the Spoonleys' "big yellow cottage", and he was a fixture to the extent that when the Spoonleys sold the cottage, he and his family remained as tenants.  He was the only tenant ever to have a signed parking space on 'the Hill'.

A sunny day at the Beach was not complete until Blase came up to our cottage after one of his long walks on the beach, to give us the latest news of all the 'cumpari and cummari' (and the 'miricani) who had summer places along his route.  To his friends and us, he was the 'Mayor' of our little stretch of Paradise
On Wednesday nights, and on his other breakfast and luncheon dates, he regaled old friends with stories of the West Side, and about his days as the 'rock' of the AM&A's Menswear Department, where he serviced everyone who was anyone (especially his paisani) in Buffalo, and could tell your suitcoat size at a glance: "Hmmm . . .  you're a 42 regular;  you're a 44 long . . etc."  His jokes at our dinners kept us roaring, even if he told them more than once.  No one could tell a story or a joke like Blase.
I have some photos of Blase below, along with the eulogies given by his daughters Cheryl and Michele.  If you have photos or stories about Blase that you'd like posted here, please send them to me by email, at

Blase's lifelong friend Joseph Tomasula wrote about him in the Per Niente magazine.  The entire article is in the Fall 2017 issue.

Joseph writes that "at age seven, Blase started his life vocation when his godfather, Pat Marasco gave him a shoeshine box. Following Pat’s guidance, Blase was to venture four doors from his home to the local card game to solicit shoe shines from men named 'Wimpie', 'Stumpy', 'Muzzi', 'Joe the Hat', and others. From her front porch Mother LaDuca kept a watchful eye on Blase. The LaDuca family motto was "do one's self proud" and Blase did so."

He adds: "Blase’s paternal grandparents, Grandpa Francesco La Duca emigrated from Valledolmo, Sicily in 1889, and maternal Grandma Vincenza Annaloro journeyed to America from Villalba, Sicily in 1901. After marrying in Buffalo they settled at 7 Trenton Avenue."  Blase's deep roots on the West Side were thus established.  Joseph also provided several photos of the young 'Biagio'.


(An obituary by Diedre Williams was also published in The Buffalo News on December 13, 2020, under the headline below. Click it to see the story.)

Lifelong Buffalonian who died from Covid-19 was 'larger than life'



Joan Mancuso and Blase on their honeymoon ~ 1955

Blase at Billy's 1975 Fallon Graduation



At Crystal Beach ~ 1980

Extended LaDuca Family ~ 1988



Siblings on Blase's 70th birthday in 2005: Sam, Blase, Mary Ann(Dietrick) and Frank LaDuca

A daily ritual at the Beach



A Eulogy by Blase's Daughter Cheryl La Duca

"If being loved and enjoying life is a success, then your dad was a superstar." So commented an old boyfriend who my father led from no organized religion to receiving all the Catholic sacraments. And he hit the nail on the head.

So as I write this on Saturday night, I am yet to shed a tear. Not one. But since I've had enough grief counseling to know that it's okay, and that as long as we process our grief, any way is the right way. So I'm good with that.

As I tried to sleep after talking to Michelle and Raechel on Wednesday night, my thoughts were of relief, reunification, rejoicing, along with mercy.

Our dad, Papa, brother, uncle, and partner, whose mind left him quite some time ago, was finally allowed to leave his body, so he could be whole

again. Without the torture he had been forced to endure. He was finally allowed to love and be loved by all of his family and friends who left him, especially his wife, sons, parents, and two siblings. He was going to reap the heavenly rewards for a life well lived. For these reasons, there are no tears.

He was blessed to be loved and accepted 100% by two amazing sets of in- laws, the Mancuso and the LaMantia families. To my knowledge, there was never a conflict with any member, EVER. And like our mother, our father became a stand-in parent, uncle, Papa, or advisor to any one we knew who was in need.

To recall our father's sources of happiness, Crystal Beach would be a major part. We would be walking halfway up the driveway on the last day of school - the car would be packed and running - and we would be whisked away for the summer. Our yearbooks are full of cottage references. Our father often worked three jobs at a time so we could afford this summer- long privilege.

And his beloved West Side. So, so proud of his West Side roots. He never felt any urge to get us into the suburbs, and he loved to tell us the history of certain addresses and landmarks that he was so knowledgeable about. And because we were raised on the West Side, our neighbors and classmates were diverse. Our friends were African American, Hispanic, Indigenous, gay, immigrants, and some were even Protestants.

Our father was onboard when the immigrant population was growing on the West Side. He was excited to see new businesses open up, and he did not feel threatened by this influx at all.

He was genuinely very excited when our 44th president was elected. And when one of his coffee groups constantly disparaged this president, our father stopped meeting them out.

Our father was color-blind. The most beautiful example of this is when, while trying to figure out why Joanna was sprouting up so quickly, his exact words were: "I can't understand why Joanna is so tall - it's not like Tony's family is so much taller than ours." (Umm, she's adopted. And Black.)

We're so thankful for the lessons our father taught us - not so much by words (though he did love to opine) but by example. He made us so proud to be a LaDuca!

And finally, if I had to give the most memorable lessons I can attribute to my father, they would be...

(1) How would you appreciate a good day if you never had a bad day. And, (2) The less you say, the smarter you sound.

And with that, I will stop for now. Rest In Peace, Daddio. Kiss Ma, Billy, and Michael for us. And kiss Baby Francis and Mikey B for me.

And always know you done right by us! xo

A Eulogy by Blase's Daughter Michelle La Duca Matthews

An old African proverb states that when an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.

I once heard our dad say out loud, but to himself, how did a kid from the West Side, who did not finish high school, end up as lucky as me. This was said as he looked at the beautiful beach in front of him. He considered the 44 years spent on that deck in Crystal Beach as the happiest times of his life. The beach considered him its mayor. To answer the question as to how he got so lucky was easy and was within himself. Our dad took what would seem to anyone else as a job and turned it into a career. A career which started at Beck's Shoes on Chippewa, then to Kleinhans, and ultimately to AM&As, where he worked for 30 years.

Our dad kept a journal dating back to 1964, listing his sales and commissions. The goal going forward was to outperform the results of that day from the previous year. Once when hosting a friend on the deck of the cottage, the friend remarked: "Gee Blase, I thought you sold suits." His reply: "You never asked me how many."

He built a loyal client base with his honesty, integrity, and warm and funny personality and earned the respect and friendship of many prominent Buffalonians. He received many awards and accolades through his retirement in 1998.

Our dad was known by all who knew him to be a very loyal friend, however his loyalty and devotion were first and foremost to his wife, Joan. They married in 1955 and enjoyed much happiness along with deep tragedies. Their love and commitment never wavered and in fact grew stronger over time. Our mom died in 1998, shortly before their 43rd wedding anniversary.

In 2001, Dad met JoJo, who would become his loving companion for the rest of his life. Her large and loving family was a great source of happiness. Whether with our mom or with JoJo, our dad had a zest for life, proven through his diaries. These diaries chronicled milestones large and small, as well as dinners, parties, travel, and entertainment. He lived for the moment and planned for the future.

Both his West Side roots and his Sicilian heritage were a source of tremendous pride. He maintained deep friendships with both grade school and high school friends and met monthly with each group. He was a member of the Per Niente Social Club, which embraces the history of the local Italian-American experience. He can be seen in two local films about that very topic.

I must say that it was not always easy being one of his children. His expectations were high, and his standards were higher. Never once, however, would he ask anything of us that he would not do himself. When we were about 14, he told us he saw one of our friends smoking at the playground. For dramatic effect, he was smoking while he spoke. He concluded the speech by saying something like: "So this is my last cigarette, this way you cannot say to me - if it's wrong to smoke, why do you then?" And that surely was the last cigarette he smoked. That is the strength that it takes to lead by example; to be selfless and to put your family first.

So at this time I would like to acknowledge our father for leading by example and always showing us that his job as a role model was one he understood to be his most important job. And he did it better than anybody could have.

And lastly, whenever he received a compliment on his daughters, he deferred all credit to our mom. He never looked for praise and was not comfortable with it. In fact we were raised to believe that pride was a sin.

Well, Dad, I have to strongly and respectfully disagree with you here on this point. Because we have never, ever been prouder to say that our dad was Blase LaDuca.









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