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March 18, 2023 - 11:12am

Community advocate Mary Ellen Wilber dies in accident on Route 5 in Batavia

posted by Howard B. Owens in accident, news, batavia.


A 68-year-old Batavia woman who was active in the community as a volunteer and advocate was killed Friday evening on Route 5 in the Town of Batavia after her westbound 2021 Hyundai suburban crossed the double-yellow line and struck two-oncoming vehicles.

Mary Ellen Wilber was pronounced dead at the scene by Coroner Karen Lang.

"She loved this community," Paula Savage told The Batavian on Saturday morning. "She was involved in so many organizations."

The accident, in the area of 3833 West Main Street Road,  is under investigation by the Sheriff's Office.

Wilber's vehicle struck a 2014 Ford F-350 and a 2015 Jeep Cherokee, which were both eastbound at about 6:36 p.m.  The driver of the F-350 was uninjured. The driver of the Jeep was transported to ECMC with lower body injuries.

Among the groups Wilber supported and participated in were the  Friends of The Batavia Peace Garden, the Business and Professional Women's Club. She was also an occasional public speaker at City Council meetings on issues that mattered to her.

Her brother, David J. Zanghi, was known as the "The Mayor of Southside."  He died in April 2020, the first local person to die as a result of contracting COVID-19.

Savage said whenever she needed anything, Wilber would rush to her side to help.  If a tour group showed up unexpectedly at the Peace Garden, Wilber arrived minutes later in costume to provide an orientation to the tourists.  

"She was one of the most giving, loving people I have ever met," Savage said. "It's a terrible loss for me."

Carol Grasso, who served alongside Wilber in community volunteer efforts, said she loved her family and her community.

"She was a great girl for the community," Grasso said. "She did everything. She was involved with everything. If anybody ever needed anything, she was there."

Savage said, "It's not only a loss for me. It's a loss for our community."

Top photo: File photo by Howard Owens from 2013 when the Peace Garden received an award from the Chamber of Commerce.  Mary Ellen Wilber is second from left, with Barb Toal, Carol Grasso, and Berneda Scoins.

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