WESTFIELD - Stephen "Steve" Baran, age 80, of West Main Street, Westfield, N.Y., died Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, at St. Vincent Health Center of Erie, Pa., following an extended illness.
Steve was born on Jan. 31, 1932, in Westfield, the son of the late Walter and Anna (Telep) Baran.A Westfield resident all his life, Steve was a graduate of Westfield Central School and Cornell University with a degree in pomology. He furthered his education in farm management and enology at the University of California, Davis campus. Steve was a U.S. Army veteran, having served with the 7th Infantry Division and was stationed in Korea from 1952 until his honorable discharge in 1954.
Steve was very active in his community, having served as chairman of the Westfield Board of Public Utilities, as past president and current board member of the Westfield Cemetery Assoc.; as a member and past president of the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club, where he was very active in the Group Study Ex-change; chairman of the Rural Urban Committee, past district director for the Rotary District 709 World Community Service, as well as member and chairman of numerous committees and the Rotary Foundation. In 1982, as team leader for District 709 of Rotary International, Steve led a group of young men to Israel for six weeks. Steve was also very involved in the Westfield Memorial Hospital capital fundraising campaign and was division chairman in 1978 and continued his involvement during the annual fund drives. Steve had an interest in the Sea Lion project and served as division chairman in 1981. He had also been active in the Westfield Jaycees and held every elected office and was also N.Y. state Jaycee vice president. He had also served on the Westfield Central School Board of Education, the Chautauqua County Economic Business Council, the Farmers Home Administration and the village of Westfield planning board. As involved in his community as he was, Steve had a passion for the farming community as well. Besides being the operator of Baran Vineyards of Westfield, Steve was a current seated member of the board of directors of Growers Cooperative Grape Juice Company, first elected to the board in 1993 and served as president of the board from 2004 until 2012.
He had also been a member of, and a committeeman of Welch Foods, Inc. and had been a delegate to the board of directors. Steve was named Chautauqua County's and New York state's "Outstanding Young Farmer" in 1968 and represented all of New York state at the national conference.
In 1996 he was chosen as the Grape Industry Person of the Year by the Lake Erie Regional Grape Advisory Committee for meritorious service and outstanding contributions to the Lake Erie Regional Grape industry. Steve's knowledge and passion for farming led him to be chosen by the Eisenhower Foundation to participate in the PEOPLE TO PEOPLE exchange in 1969 with the Soviet Union, Hungary, East and West Germany on an agricultural tour. He was selected by USAID to spend a month in the Ukraine during 1992 working with a team of specialists and the Russian farmers during the breakup of the collective farms. The purpose was to show them how to establish individual management plans, including establishing vineyards and how to finance the farm operation.
In 1994 the USAID sent Steve to Egypt during the summer months to work with a team of specialists and Egyptian farmers to oversee and study the overuse of chemicals in the vineyards and to teach lo-cal farmers more about pest management with less chemical use. He and Helen hosted numerous groups of foreign visitors on tours of their vineyards and grape processing plants in our area. Steve remained loyal to his alma mater, Cornell University. He served the Cornell Cooperative Extension as a board member and as a member and chair of almost every committee. He was a director of the NYS Wine Grape Growers Assoc.; a member of the Cost of Production Committee, the New York-Canada Agricultural Committee; and chaired the Cornell Cooperative Extension Committee that was charged with the responsibility to investigate and formulate the networking of the grape programs in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Steve gave numerous speeches and forums regarding various vineyard practices and was eager to participate with Cornell University in vineyard and equipment experiments. Steve was always willing to help educate young and old alike on grape farming. He donated countless hours and a vineyard to students from Westfield Academy to give them the practical experience that, to Steve, was so invaluable. He will be forever known as an innovator in the grape growing industry. In 2012 Steve and Helen were awarded the George Weaver "footprints" award by the Northern Chautauqua Community foundation.
He was an avid Buffalo Bills fan and longtime season ticket holder and was a member of the Chautauqua County Investment Club.
He is survived by his wife of 47 years: Helen (Stidd) Baran, whom he married on Jan. 1, 1966, in Westfield; his three daughters: Elaine (Brian) Mahoney of Rochester, N.Y., Julie (Rod) Travis of Westfield; Beth Baran of Amsterdam, N.Y., and his one son: Stephan Baran of Westfield. Steve was the very proud grandfather of Christine (Jon) Graber of New York City and Stephen Mahoney of Rochester, N.Y. He is further survived by his two sisters: Betty Andes of Shadyside, Ohio, and Ann Boyle of Atlanta, Ga.; and his one brother: John (Frances) Baran of Needham, Mass. Numerous nieces and nephews, as well as Zeba, his beloved dog, also survive.
Besides his parents Steve was preceded in death by his first wife, Faithann (Golem) Baran, who died in 1962; his two sisters: Anastasia (Nell) Lock, and Olga Naeser; and by his two brothers: Walter (Peggy) Baran and Andrew (Evie) Baran.
Visiting hours were held Wednesday at the MASON Funeral Home, 37 Clinton St., Westfield, N.Y. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. today at the First Presbyterian Church and Society of Westfield, 49 S. Portage St., Westfield, with the Rev. Stephen Morse officiating. Private family burial will be in Westfield Cemetery.
The Baran family suggests that memorials be made to the Lake Erie Concord Grape Heritage Assoc., P.O. Box 194, Westfield, NY 14787 or to the Westfield Memorial Hospital Foundation, 189 East Main St., Westfield, NY 14787.
Log on to www.masonfuneral.com to send Steve's family a message of condolence.