Marlene Zubin DeCarlo, 83, award-winning real estate agency owner – Buffalo News

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Jan. 28, 1939 – Jan. 26, 2023
Her powers of persuasion started Marlene Zubin DeCarlo on her long, award-winning career in real estate.
When her family needed a new home in the mid-1960s, the buyer for the old one had a stipulation – they had to move out in six weeks.
She quickly found a lot in Williamsville and made sure contractor Fred Torano got the new house built as soon as possible. Six weeks later it was ready. Torano was so impressed with her that he asked her to sit at open houses for him on the weekends.
She earned her real estate license in 1967 and went on to become one of the first women in the area to own a real estate agency. She and her office won numerous sales awards.
She died unexpectedly Jan. 26 in her Amherst home, two days before her 84th birthday.
Born Marlene Yallof in Buffalo, the older of two girls, she was the daughter of Esther Yallof, a saleswoman known as “The Coat Lady” to generations of shoppers at the Jenss department store in the Boulevard Mall in Amherst.
After she graduated in 1956 from Bennett High School, she decided she wanted a job in the federal government. She walked into an office, applied and was hired the next day by the Internal Revenue Service.
She received an incentive award for suggesting for what was then a revolutionary idea – that income tax forms be filed by number instead by name.
In 1957, she married Milton Zubin, owner of Ben Glaser’s service station on Hertel Avenue, and left the IRS in 1959 when she was expecting her first child.
While raising her children, she was treasurer of the PTA at their school for three years and active in Boruch Chapter 1040, B’nai B’rith Women and the Temple Sinai Women’s Club.
Her first experience as a real estate agent was at Tompkins and Fink, where she became a member of its $100,000 a Month Club for sales.
She joined Robert L. Vacanti, who was president of the firm, in 1977 when he decided to open his own office on Sheridan Drive, which became one of the area’s first Century 21 agencies. As vice president, she specialized in finding homes for clients who were moving into the area. By 1979, the office was winning regional awards for sales, including “Top Referral Office” for its relocation department, which she headed.
“I especially like talking to the wives of the transferees,” she told The Buffalo News in 1980, when she was featured as a Realtor of Distinction. “Usually they’re not too happy about having to uproot their lives. What usually happens is that the husbands take the jobs and the wives have to tag along. There is bound to be a certain resentment toward the area. But after I talk to them and show them around, I can see their attitude changing.”
She became owner of the agency in the early 1980s, won national sales awards and was a trustee of the Century 21 Greater Buffalo Council.
When the agency became part of Potter Real Estate in the early 1990s, she was co-manager of the Potter South office on Harlem Road in Amherst. It was Potter’s Office of the Year in 1994.
It became Stovroff & Potter after a merger in 1997, then was associated with Realty USA and now is the Amherst office of Howard Hanna on Sheridan Drive.
“She was a mentor and role model not only to me, but to so many women who have told me that they wouldn’t be in this business if it wasn’t for her,” said her oldest daughter, Andrea Griebner, who is a realtor with the Amherst office of Howard Hanna. “She was so professional and classy, and she opened many doors for other women to walk through.”
In an article on personal style in 1984, Buffalo News reporter Barbara Snyder wrote that she “is never sloppy and never trendy. She is always conservative, classic and comfortable with her clothes. … What she is not into is labels, other people’s initials or polyester anything.”
She was president of the Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors in 1994, served on more than 40 committees and chaired more than 20 of them. She was its Realtor of the Year in 2005 and has served as an adviser to association presidents.
She also served as a director for the New York State and National Associations of Realtors.
An ardent supporter of local theater, she was a season ticket holder at Shea’s Performing Arts Center and the Kavinoky Theatre.
She was married in 2000 to Thomas G. DeCarlo, who owned and operated an auto collision shop on Niagara Street in Buffalo. He died in 2015.
Surviving are two daughters, Andrea Griebner and Alison Manaher; a son, Howard Zubin; a sister, Romaine “Ronnie” Denis; seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
A funeral service was held Jan. 29 in Mesnekoff Funeral Home, East Amherst.
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Dale Anderson has been a Buffalo News staff reporter since 1968. He was the chief rock and pop writer for 20 years and helped establish the weekend entertainment magazine Gusto.
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