Remembering The Life, Legacy And Service Of  Katherine “Kat” Massey

 A Beautiful Soul

(Ed. Note: The following tribute to Katherine “Kat” Massey,   penned  by “Tee,”  appeared in Kat’s Celebration of Life funeral notice. Katherine’s obituary, “Remembering The Life, Legacy and Service  Of Katherine ‘Kat’ Massey”  which was written by Kat herself, follows Tee’s remembrance. Kat was one of the 10 victims of the Tops Market Massacre May 14 after a White supremacist stormed the store   killing 10 innocent people.)

How does one begin to describe this woman with the beautiful soul who was an advocate for all? Katherine Massey, Kat as she is affectionately called, lived her life with purpose, concern, and a willingness to be the voice of the underserved. Her life was taken away from us by a senseless racist act. One of her favorite quotes was from Shirley Chisholm. “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” and that is exactly what she did. Kat was an active participant of the Buffalo Board of Education. Once she was asked at a meeting, “How many children do you have in the school system?” She responded by quoting the total number of children enrolled in the Buffalo School System at the time. The room went silent. She believed everyone should have a vested interest in the children of the future. Kat was an exceptional writer and a critical thinker who would submit articles to the various news publications in the Buffalo area. She provided insight and questioned activities that did not seem to benefit her community. She was a supporter of the arts. Prior to these last few years, you might find her at a concert or attending a play, supporting an activity at the Cultural Center, or attending dinners or luncheons to support a friend or family member.

As President of the Fruit Belt Block Club, she worked tirelessly to make improvements for her neighborhood. She believed all neighborhoods deserved to have tree-lined streets and green areas. She was a visionary. Take a stroll down Cherry Street and be amazed by the African artwork on the walls of the expressway which was proposed by Kat. She worked with City Hall until her “vision” materialized. On any given day you might find her and her family mowing, weeding, picking up trash and planting flowers on the street. She believed in family and helping her fellow man. If you were fortunate enough to be called her friend, you were also her family. She never met a stranger. Those of us who are left behind will miss her terribly. We can only hope that our “dash” will be half as meaningful and full of purpose as hers. – Signed, “Tee”



The Life, Legacy and Service of  Katherine “Kat” Massey

Katherine “Kat” Massey was born July 30, 1949, to Robert and Katie Massey. She was the oldest of five children: Robert Jr., Barbara, Warren, and Patti.

She attended East High School and received a business diploma from Bryant &Stratton. Kat retired from BlueCross BlueShield in 2011 after 40 years of employment. Her last position was in the Communications Department  as a document processor. She was a dedicated member of the Office & Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) and co-editor with Patti of the Union’s Newspaper, The 212. For many years she was a proud usher at Mount Ararat. In retirement, she volunteered with the block club’s department located in City Hall.

In the late 1980’s, Kat “created” the Cherry Street Block Club as she needed to add weight to her advocacy letters. A major problem was the continuously overgrown area behind the Department of Transportation’s fence, at the beginning of the street, and the perpetual rusted railings. Self-designated as the block club president, she designed letterhead and sent a letter to Governor Mario Cuomo asking for his assistance. (The secret was she was the only member. Some years later it became a bonafide, registered block club-a see-and-do entity.

As a result of the Albany letter, the DOT made a short-fall proposal. That is, they would sand the railings and supply the paint for the “block club” to paint them. As always, the immediate family and extended Cherry Street family supported Kat and the painting effort. They got it done.Kat’s long-time dream was to have the street span lined with beautiful flowers and to have the “Triangle” (really several City lots) at the Jefferson Avenue end face lifted.

In 2000, the DOT revealed their potential beautification project to address the ugly railings and for landscaping along them. She and Ms. Ware of the Friendly Fruit Belt Block Club were sent to give input by the council member. Not being shy, Kat whipped out a piece of African Kente cloth, at the first meeting, and asked if at least its colors could be incorporated into the cement for the project. That material became the inspiration for the replacement rails, thanks to DOT’s Mike Christner’s research and support. As secretary, mainly through the use of creative correspondence and basic people skills interaction, Kat made it her relentless mission to keep the project on the burner.

The joyous 2011 outcome was the African signs and descriptive wording that appears on the concrete. Also, included was the professional redo of the “Triangle” with pavers shaped like one of the signs and reference sign boards explaining the origins of Kente, etc.

Kat did not hesitate from being a “committee of one”. Once she picketed her landlord’s restaurant for the lack of heat in her apartment. She chose a comer, across from the Main Place Mall, (holding a huge Obama sign) as her one-woman Election Day effort to get votes for him.

One of her proudest moments and a time when she nearly got cold feet was her appearance as Ms. BrocCOOLI (her invention) at a health assembly at the Dr. Lydia T. Wright School. Her rented broccoli costume was accessorized by sunglasses and leopard gloves. She performed the rap song written by her for the occasion. (She often said she was a single parent with 35,000 adopted children attending Buffalo’s public schools.)

Kat was an upbeat people-person with a well-used smile. She was not an inside-the -box individual, as her home’s unusual decorations (such as a knight in armor) demonstrated. And, oh yes, she didn’t mind expressing her opinion-in newspaper editorials, at School Board and community meetings, at BCBS, in the barbershop, at bus stops, in train stations, via on-line blogs or, wherever …(Written by Kat in 2012)

The footprints of Kat’s love, service and memories are indelibly etched in the hearts of her brother, Warren Massey (Wanda Willis); sister, Barbara Mapps (Jerry Hesson); sister-in­law, Debbie Massey; two nieces, Adrienne Massey  (Jim LiPuma) and Dawn Massey; four nephews, Damon Mapps (Jamille Matthews), Damien Mapps, Darrale Massey (Nikki Garrison), and, Demtrius Massey (Desi’ree Massey); ten great nephews; four great nieces; one great-great niece; two aunts (Bessie Young and Elizabeth Frazier); cousin/ sister, Teresa Brown (Leroy Brown); and, a host of other relatives and friends.

She was preceded in death by her parents and siblings, Robert Jr. and Patti.