Bernadette B. Tutuska of West Seneca, who successfully lobbied against legislation that would legally hinder victims of asbestos poisoning, died on October 31, 2006. She was 63.
Born Bernadette Stachura in Buffalo, she was a graduate of Mount Mercy Academy and Erie Community College. She worked at Kandefer Plumbing as a secretary.
Mrs. Tutuska contracted mesothelioma, a cancer caused by the inhalation of asbestos particles. Starting in the early 1970s, her husband worked in construction and unknowingly carried home asbestos particles in his work clothes, which she would shake before washing.
“My husband asked at work if the dust was dangerous, and he was told it wasn’t,” she told The Buffalo News in 2004. “His clothes were just loaded with the dust. I’d bang them against a pole. I was breathing the asbestos.”
The Tutuskas traveled to Washington, D.C., in April 2004 and lobbied against a Senate bill that would have established a national trust fund and eliminated asbestos lawsuits, releasing corporations from any further responsibility. The bill was defeated, and the Tutuskas were able to settle their lawsuit.
A member of the Women’s Auxiliary of Harvey D. Morin Post 2940, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Mrs. Tutuska enjoyed needlepoint and sewing blankets for her children’s families. In recent years, the Tutuskas traveled throughout the West, the South and the East Coast in their recreation vehicle.