Medina educator honored with new art center at DeSales Catholic School in Lockport

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 22 October 2021 at 6:10 pm

This case at DeSales Catholic School Nunzio T. Maiorana Art Center holds a painter’s box, top, which belonged to Maiorana in 1956. Medina artist Arthur Barnes bought it at a yard sale years later. When he realized DeSales was dedicating their new Art Center to the Medina educator, Barnes restored and donated it to Mairoana’s former high school.

A much-loved Medina educator and graduate of DeSales High School was honored last Saturday at DeSales Catholic School in Lockport by dedication of their new Art Center in his name.

 A large crowd gathered in the school to pay tribute to Nunzio T. Maiorana, who was described by family and school personnel as a man who not only loved DeSales, but every human being. He had been a popular teacher and school administrator in Medina, as well as athletic director.
Kim Knuutila, director of Admissions and Marketing at DeSales described Maiorana as a highly respected leader in both education and athletics throughout Niagara and Orleans counties.
“In addition to his educational talents, he was also an accomplished self-taught artist who specialized in pen and ink drawings of historic lighthouses and buildings from across the world,” Knuutila said in a press release prior to the dedication. “Each of his drawings was hand-drawn using jeweler’s glasses and each art piece contained more than 500,000 lines and dots.”
Some of his works are on display in the Art Center, along with a display case with a painter’s box which belonged to Maiorana in 1956. The box had been purchased many years ago at a yard sale by Medina artist Arthur Barnes, who restored the box and donated it to DeSales. Maiorana’s name and the date are etched in the cover. When Barnes heard about the art center being dedicated to Nunzio, he knew that was where it belonged.

Nunzio T. Maiorana

The dedication began at 1 p.m. with a ribbon cutting by Nunzio’s widow Charlotte, his children David and Ann-Marie, the Rev. Walter Szczesny and Assemblyman Michael Norris.
David, a general contractor in New York City, said Harvey Mack and his men did the shell of the room, while David built the cabinets.
David said his dad loved DeSales, his teachers, his football coach and his teammates.
He described his father as a man who looked deeper into everyone, and didn’t write them off if they were struggling.

“I’ve heard so many times from someone who graduated, got a job or became a teacher because of my dad,” David said. “He knew families of his students, their parents and their lineage. That’s why people respected him.”

Nelda Toussaint of Medina looks at a display of pen and ink drawings by the late Nunzio T. Maiorana, a Medina educator and graduate of DeSales High School, for whom the new Art Center was dedicated on Saturday.

As an example, he related the story of a kid who was ready to expelled by the principal. Nunzio was superintendent at the time and called the kid into his office. According to David, his dad told the boy, “Here’s a pass. Go back to class.”
“And now, that man is a mechanic for Mercedes-Benz,” David said.
Ann-Marie thanked everyone who had anything to do with the event – from her family to friends and school personnel.
“Dad would be so proud,” she said. “Last Thursday night, Dad was inducted into DeSales Distinguished Hall of Fame, and we were here. Our father was a man of God’s own heart.”
She said her father, who died in January 2018, was born in Lockport and graduated from DeSales in 1958. She called him “kind, loving and giving of himself – a naturally talented artist and leader of his students.”
She continued, saying, “He was a block of granite on the (football) field, a rock for his family and a positive role model for all who knew him.”
He joined the faculty of Medina High School in the fall of 1963, where he taught pre-vocational studies, English and history and was assistant high school football coach. He was also superintendent of curriculum and finance.

The family of Nunzio T. Maiorana, a long-time Medina educator and graduate of DeSales High School, cut the ribbon to officially dedicate the Nunzio T. Maiorana Art Studio Saturday afternoon at DeSales Catholic School. From left are Maiorana’s daughter Ann-Marie Maiorana, widow Charlotte, the Rev. Walter Szczesny, Assemblyman Michael Norris and Maiorana’s son David.

Ann Marie said creation of an art center in honor of her dad was the idea of her mom’s friend of 71 years, Brenda Crow.
“She came to Mom and said,” We need to do something to honor Nunzio in some way.”
David said his mom asked him if he could make it happen. He commended everyone from the employee of his company who drew the plans to the men who built it to perfection.
Many people were instrumental in making it happen. David did a lot of the communication, made sure they had an architect and hired a contractor. Takeform in Medina provided signage. Family friends, Christiana and Joseph DeVoe of Lockport were the local contacts and arranged for the catering from Zambistro’s in Medina.
Remarks were also made by art teacher Kristen McCabe, who said this art center will impact students forever. She said DeSales opened as a high school in 1946, and now serves students in kindergarten through Pre-K.
“Projects like this art center will help us attract new students in the future,” she said.
David’s 40th class reunion at Medina High School is tonight and Saturday. He also plans to attend the Homecoming football game tonight in Medina.