Ethelea Wardner

Obituary of Ethelea M. Wardner

Ethelea M. Wardner 1927–2020 Ethelea "Lou" S. Mastor was born June 30, 1927 in Fredonia, NY, the daughter of Greek immigrants Soterios and Olga Simopoulou Mastorotasios (shortened to Mastor). She grew up waiting tables in her family's restaurant, the Sugar Bowl, which specialized in ice cream, chocolates and candies. The Mastor children and their cousins enjoyed exploring the Lake Erie beaches and other outdoor attractions in Chautauqua County. Lou and her siblings sang in the Trinity Episcopal Church choir. Once a month, the family would drive the 30 miles to Jamestown (in the 1930s, a one-hour trip) for services at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and fellowship with other Greek-Americans. Lou's first language was Greek, which her parents spoke at home. Upon entering grade school, she learned English in a hurry. Music was a big part of her life from an early age, including the study of viola, cello, piano and voice. Upon graduation from Fredonia Campus School, she enrolled at Fredonia State Teachers College (now SUNY Fredonia), majoring in music education and piano. Her first job in 1948 was as Vocal Music teacher at Painted Post High School, where she met Instrumental Music teacher Arthur Wardner, a WWII veteran from Dolgeville, NY (Herkimer County), with degrees from Potsdam and Syracuse. Four years later, Lou and Art married, built a home on West (King's) Hill in Painted Post, and raised four children on this wooded hillside overlooking the Chemung and Tioga valleys. At PPHS, Lou developed a strong choral program, and was especially proud of her treble-voice Triple Trio. She also coached the PPHS marching band majorettes, and taught music in the elementary and junior high schools. After returning to Fredonia for a master's degree in Elementary Education, Lou pursued a second career as a first grade teacher and reading specialist, spending most of those years at the Winfield and Lindley-Presho Schools. Inspired by the struggles of many of her students, she conceived and developed The Mastor Plan, a decoding system for English which helped hundreds of young children develop functional reading skills and advance academically. In recognition of her four decades of teaching, she was inducted into the Delta Kappa Gamma honorary society for women educators. She participated in meetings of the Corning Area Retired Teachers Association, and was invited to attend class reunions of her former PPHS students. Lou was active in the Corning area community from the 1950s through the 1980s, serving on the board of the Civic Music Association, and volunteering for Corning Hospital Chapter and the Girl Scouts. The Wardner family attended St. Athanasios Greek Orthodox Church in Elmira, and in later years St. Catherine GOC in Ithaca. In the 1970s, Lou became active in the Mid-Eastern Federation of Greek Orthodox Choirs, a 7-state organization stretching from NY to IN. Within MEFGOC she served as an officer, choral workshop director, and chairperson of two conventions at Keuka College. She also organized Upstate NY GOYA summer youth retreats at Keuka College. In the mid-1950s, Lou and Art established a summer residence on Keuka Lake, where they enjoyed decades of lake fun with their children, extended family, and friends. In the 1968-'69 academic year, they both took sabbaticals from teaching in order to travel to Europe with their four kids, spending nine months in Greece, followed by three months touring a dozen European countries, from Italy to the UK. While in Greece, Lou taught English classes. During retirement, Art & Lou wintered in the warmth of Florida, in the company of relatives and friends. Lou performed with the Clearwater Community Chorus and sang with the choir of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church. In the summer, they relished spending time with their grandchildren on Keuka Lake. Lou was predeceased by Art, her devoted husband of 55 years. She is survived by four children, Evan (Julie) of Orchard Park, NY, Jon (Niki) of Ann Arbor, MI, Dawn (William) Heller of Huntington Station, NY, and Karen (Mark) Griffin of State College, PA, twelve grandchildren, and one great-grandson, along with many nieces and nephews. Visitation will be held January 31, 4-8 p.m. at F. E. Brown Funeral Home in Orchard Park, NY, with Trisaghion service at 7 p.m. Funeral service will take place February 1, 11:00 a.m. at Hellenic Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, 146 W. Utica St., Buffalo. Interment at Hellenic Gardens, Elmlawn Cemetery, Tonawanda, NY. The Art & Lou Wardner Memorial Fund in support of music education is being established in the Corning-Painted Post Area School District. For those wishing to contribute in lieu of flowers, an announcement with more details will be forthcoming.

Visitation at Funeral Home

4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Friday, January 31, 2020
F. E. Brown Sons Funeral Home, Inc.
6575 East Quaker Street
Orchard Park, New York, United States

Final Resting Place

Saturday, February 1, 2020
Elmlawn Cemetery
3939 Delaware Avenue
Kenmore, New York, United States


11:00 am
Saturday, February 1, 2020
Hellenic Orthodox Church Of The Annunciation
146 W. Utica St.
Buffalo, New York, United States
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