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MAY 11, 1921 -- MARCH 29, 2005

Allen E. Dekdebrun, the former pro football player and sporting goods dealer who was supervisor of Amherst during its most explosive period of growth in the early 1970s, died March 29 in Hope Hospice North, Cape Coral, Fla., after a lengthy illness. He was 83.

Mr. Dekdebrun became Amherst's first Democratic supervisor in more than 40 years in 1969 and won election to two more two-year terms. He stepped down to run for county executive in 1975, defeating future Buffalo Mayor James D. Griffin in the Democratic primary but losing to incumbent Republican Edward J. Rutkowski in the general election.

He later was named chairman of the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority and served for two years.

As Amherst supervisor, he worked hard to earn the trust of Republican members of the Town Board and department heads.

"Before his first two-year term was completed, he had forged a bipartisan majority which led to the construction of a modern senior citizens facility, the Clearfield Recreation Center and laid the groundwork for Amherst's successful industrial park network," his then-administrative assistant, Barry Zeplowitz, wrote in 1991.

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Dekdebrun graduated from Burgard Vocational High School, where he studied aviation mechanics and was All-High in football in 1941 and 1942. He then went to Wyoming Seminary Preparatory School in Kingston, Pa., where he was president of the graduating class and All-State in football.

He earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Cornell University. Quarterback of the football team, he led the nation in passing yardage and was an All-American in 1945.

He was named most valuable player in the Shrine East-West Football Game in San Francisco in 1946 and was a member of the College All-Star football team that defeated the Los Angeles Rams in a game in Chicago later that year.

His pro career included three years in the old All-American Football Conference, where he was a quarterback for the Buffalo Bisons in 1946, the Chicago Rockets in 1947 and the New York and Boston Yankees in 1948, and six years in the Canadian Football League.

In his first year as starting quarterback with the Toronto Argonauts, he was the highest-paid player on the team, earning $17,000.

He led the Argonauts to the 1950 Grey Cup victory over Winnipeg in what was dubbed the "Mud Bowl." The muddy ball was so slippery that he taped thumbtacks to his fingers so he could handle it better.

Mr. Dekdebrun opened his first sporting goods store on Bailey Avenue in 1948 and moved to Northtown Plaza in Amherst in 1954. Dekdebrun Sporting Goods grew to become a chain of half a dozen stores.

He closed some of the stores and sold the others in 1986 and retired to North Fort Myers, Fla., maintaining a summer home in the Buffalo area for several years.

He was one of the originators of Little League Baseball in Western New York and served as commissioner, building it up to 34 leagues.

A director and past president of the Greater Buffalo Advertising Club, he was originator and first chairman of the Ad Club All-Star Football Game, which brought together the best players from high schools throughout Buffalo and Erie County. The Ad Club named him Man of the Year in 1971.

He was a member of Blue Lodge 699, Free & Accepted Masons; Ismailia Shrine; and the Buffalo Consistory.

An avid golfer, he was a member of Park Country Club in Amherst and Lake Fairways Country Club in North Fort Myers.

Surviving are two sons, Gregory of Ellicottville and Rick of Fort Collins, Colo.; two sisters, Audrey Schmidt of Amherst and Betty Lyons of Albany; his former wife, Corrine "Corky" Lund of Pendleton; and three grandchildren.

A memorial service will be at 8 p.m. April 15 in Amigone Funeral Home, 5200 Sheridan Drive, Amherst.


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