Susan DeSales Vasi, local artist and former president of the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society, passed away on December 1st, 2023 while under care at Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital. She was 80.
A native of Buffalo, Susan attended Nardin Academy via scholarship, and later Rosary Hill College (now Daemen University). Susan’s early work in retail and local radio was followed by marriage to James G. Vasi in 1965. James, also a Buffalo native and an avid craftsman, taught woodshop at Maryvale High School and served as President of the Western New York Woodturners Association. They celebrated 55 wonderful years of marriage together until James’ passing in 2020. Together they shared a life of travel, creativity, and love, of support for each other through difficult family times, and of their celebration of the profound love and devotion they held for one another.
Susan’s lifelong aptitude and appreciation for art was well-known. She served as a photographic retoucher for locally owned photo studio Knack & Richards in the late 80’s, at a time before digital editing of photographs was possible. Susan would correct photos by hand, often of students at local schools, manually removing eyeglass glare, red-eye, or other visual issues, even extensive corrections such as painted clothing, adjusted collars, or the addition of the occasional stick-pin for ties.
Susan’s illustrative ability was impressive, her original creations used for company advertisements, poster competitions, and downtown Buffalo events. Her true passion emerged later in life when she embraced watercolor painting and began producing work that spanned landscape, still-life, and portrait – both human and animal. Several beloved pets of family and friends were immortalized through Susan’s paintings, gifted as memorials after their passing.
Her love of watercolor led her to become involved with, and later serve as President of, the Niagara Frontier Watercolor Society, of which she led with the passion, humor, and generosity so apparent in all aspects of her life. After her tenure Susan continued to serve as Historian and contributor to the society.
Embracing all facets of the art world, Susan became a docent at the Buffalo Albright-Knox Art Gallery (now the Buffalo AKG Art Museum). Delighting in giving tours to visitors and schoolchildren of all ages, she guided them through their first experiences with art while supplying an endless list of dates, facts, biographies, and details concerning the artwork.
Susan also volunteered at neighboring nursing homes to help residents experience the pleasure of creating artwork firsthand, leading them through painting lessons and exercises each week to allow them to build a gallery of their own personal work.
Susan was mother to three sons, David B. Vasi, Chistopher J. Vasi, and Nicholas P. Vasi; sister to John J. Gangloff, the late Roger P. Gangloff, and Deborah M. Gangloff; and daughter of the late John T. Gangloff and Bette E. Gangloff.
Susan was a kind and welcoming presence, who brought the very best out of those around her, whether through her creative staging to welcome members of her book club into her home with author-themed celebrations, her willingness to pass a friendly word and positive story to any stranger who she crossed paths with during her day, or her openness to finding the joy in everyday life. She was quick to compliment, had a relentless positivity, and was easy to speak with, a buoyant soul who raised the spirits of those around her. She was a deeply considerate and caring individual, renowned for her wry sense of humor and enduring compassion.
She has touched the hearts of countless individuals, leaving an indelible mark on each and bringing untold cheerfulness to their lives. She was a truly unique and selfless force for good in the world, full of warmth and light. In her final days, she was surrounded by family, who read poetry, played music and charades, and shared memories of their lives together. She will be missed.