Parade In Old First Ward Honors Special People

March 17, 2012 Updated Mar 18, 2012 at 12:08 AM EDT

By WKBW News

March 17, 2012 Updated Mar 18, 2012 at 12:08 AM EDT

BUFFALO, N.Y. ( WKBW / ) Thousands gathered in the historic Old First Ward Saturday for a special St. Patrick's Day Parade on Saint Patrick's Day.

The parade included marching bands, Irish dancers, clowns, characters, and well wishers where everyone was Irish! website reports that the 2012 Grand Marshal was Mary Ellen Sumbrum, who led the celebration in the historic Old First Ward St. Patricks's Day Parade.

The Valley Community Association’s 19th Annual “Old Neighborhood” St. Patrick’s Day Parade honored two very special people this year as the parade was dedicated in honor of the late Bill Slattery and Michael Parker.

Bill Slattery

William “Bill” Slattery was born in 1932 to Marion Dossett Slattery and John Slattery. Bill lived with his parents and five siblings on Euclid Place until his marriage to Joan Wrest, a girl from Perry Street. A lifelong parishioner of St. Stephen’s Church (currently known as St. Clare’s Church), Bill was baptized, confirmed, schooled, and married there. Bill and Joan raised their two sons – Joseph and James – on Fulton Street in the Valley where Joan still resides.

Employed at Michigan Limestone, which was located at the foot of Katherine Street in the Old First Ward, for 31 years, Bill was forced into retirement when the plant closed. After his retirement Bill became the bus driver for the Valley Community Association (VCA), transporting the senior citizens to and from the Center, shopping, and doctors appointments. Bill also served as Chairman of the VCA Board of Directors from 1979 to 1982. Over the years both Bill and his wife Joan were active volunteers at the Valley Center. In addition to serving as Chairman, Bill volunteered at the Rally in the Valley, coached little league PAL baseball, worked bingo, played Santa, and served as the life of the many parties hosted by the VCA. Bill was known for his infectious smile, sense of humor, and his love of fishing and hunting.

Bill suffered a brainstem stroke in 2002 and spent the remainder of his life in Our Lady of Victory Nursing Home and passed away this past year. In addition to his wife and sons, Bill is survived by his grandchildren Eric, Gina Marie, and Karlee.

Michael Parker

Michael Parker, a favorite son of both the Valley and Old First Ward neighborhoods, is also being honored this year. Michael, who resided on O’Connell Avenue, was well known throughout both communities for his volunteerism.

He was a volunteer at the food pantry at the Old First Ward Community Center. Almost daily he walked over the South Park bridge to help at the Valley Center in various capacities including setting up for bingo, helping with kids activities, calling bingo for the senior program, and helping with maintenance chores. He also spent days helping with the preparation of the Rally in the Valley, Buffalo River Fest, and the “Old Neighborhood” St. Patrick’s Day Parade. He also found time to help many of his neighbors including Dorothy Cepuchowski, Betty Barrett, and Margaret Anderson. His dedication earned him the Volunteer of the Year Award from the Valley Community Association.

Michael was only 37 when he died after suffering from complications from ulcerative colitis. He is survived by his mother Loretta Pike Parker, his stepfather Dave, and his brother Frank.

Following the parade there was a grand Irish Hooley at the Valley Center with live Irish music by “The Left Overs” and food and refreshments.

Channel 7 supports the work of the Valley Center in preserving historic heritage. Find out more, and how you can help:

Valley Community Association
93 Leddy Street
Buffalo, NY 14210
Phone: (716) 823-4707
Fax: (716) 823-4254