When Joseph Reszka passed away in January of 2004 his
sons wanted to honor both him and their mother Ursula for the sacrifices
they had made to educate them at Canisius High School in Buffalo, New
York. To that end, they have created the Joseph & Ursula Reszka
Scholarship at Canisius.
The four-year, partial scholarship will be available
to a freshman entering Canisius in the Fall of 2004. Each year it will
be given to a student who has both a demonstrated financial need and a
parent or grandparent who served on active duty in the United States Air
It is the goal of their sons Michael ’70, Peter ‘72
and Steven ’77 that, over time, a growing endowment will increase the
scholarship to full tuition.
You would have never known it from meeting them, but
Joseph and Ursula Reszka were heroes. They weren’t great athletes or
entertainers and didn’t find a cure for cancer, but they definitely fit
Webster’s definition of heroes as someone “admired for his or her
They were heroes where it counted most … at home. A
working-class husband and wife, Joe and Ursula set aside their needs and
sacrificed so their three sons could get the best possible education. To
Joseph and Ursula nothing was more important than a good education for
their children. Money was often very tight. There were no exotic
vacations, fancy cars or trendy clothes because money for tuition, books
and other costs associated with high school came first.
Joseph often had to work two jobs to pay the bills.
Ursula managed the household budget and always found ways to cut
corners, saving enough money to pay both the bills and tuition, even
when Joseph was out of work for a year. They were heroes because they
sacrificed of themselves for the benefit of their family.
This sacrifice and hard work was rooted early in their
relationship. During Joseph’s 23-year career in the Air Force, he served
in military bases throughout Europe, North Africa and the United States.
After World War II he met Ursula in Germany, where she too was working
for the Air Force. In 1948, Joseph and his team, which included Ursula,
played a vital role in the Berlin Air Lift, making sure the airplanes’
navigation and flight systems kept up with the rigorous schedule of
continually delivering supplies to occupied Berlin. Joseph and Ursula
married in 1951.
After his retirement from the Air Force in 1963,
Joseph worked for many years at Bell Aerosystems in Niagara Falls, New
York where he played an integral role in perfecting electronic parts for
NASA’s Lunar Module. Prior to that project, he created a component
called a digital accelerometer, which was used in NASA’s Surveyor Lunar
Lander, the first spacecraft to land safely on the moon in the
mid-1960s. The part, which still sits on the moon, has Joseph’s name
engraved on it. True to their modesty and belief that it was “all in a
day’s work” many in their family never knew of their exploits until
The Joseph & Ursula Reszka Scholarship with the hope
that students demonstrating financial need and a parent or grandparent
who served in the United States Air Force can also receive a Jesuit
education that enlightens, enriches and lasts for a lifetime.
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