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War vet honored in long awaited class photo

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Canisius High School in Buffalo unveiled a new photo of the class of 1944 to honor a veteran who missed his class photo to serve in World War II.

A large line of class photos fill a wall outside Canisius High auditorium in an area known as Alumni Hall. It celebrates the school's long legacy of graduates. But Ladislaus “Walter” Kostrzewski was never included in his original Class of '44 photo. He graduated in January of 1944 before his classmates. At the age of 18 he was drafted to serve in World War II. 

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Ladislaus “Walter” Kostrzewski stood by his class photo now with a military photo inserted.

Kostrzewski once told his nephew he was disappointed he was not included in the class photo. The school created a brand new picture with the help of his nephew who provided a military photo ID.

“Uncle Walter had mentioned that this picture had never made it into the frame we see today because he was off to service in the U.S. Army,” said David Koztrezewski, nephew.  

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
David Koztrezewski, nephew, worked to get his uncle's photo inserted into the class of '44 photo.

Canisius High President Father David Ciancimino blessed the new photo.

“So it is indeed a great honor and a privilege to be able to welcome you back and to place you where you belong in Alumni Hall with your classmates,” stated Ciancimino.

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Canisius High President Father David Ciancimino blessed the new photo and presented it to Ladislaus “Walter” Kostrzewski.

Father Ciancimino joked with Kostrzewski about his competition of his school work ahead of his classmates.

“But also to tell you that I did check your transcripts to make sure you completed those credits and you did,” Ciancimino said.

At one point he became emotional, recalling hia time served in the military as crew a chief in the Army Air Corp. 

“I was on B-29’s in Alabama, you know, in Maxwell Field and we took care of the Caribbean,” recalled Kostrzewski. “I was crew chief…we didn’t find anybody.”

Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
Canisius High School class of 1944 photo now includes Kostrzewski.

Kostrzewski never attended school at the Canisius building on Delaware Avenue. During his time the school was originally located on Washington Street.  The Delaware Avenue site didn't open to students until 1948.

Kostrzewski is thrilled that after more than 72-years he's now part of his class photo.

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