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David W. McDuff, marketing entrepreneur
Nov. 11, 1948 -- Jan. 21, 2007

David William McDuff of Williamsville, an entrepreneur noted for his numerous marketing businesses and charitable works, died Sunday in Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City. He was 58.

Mr. McDuff pioneered two innovative advertising programs for newspapers -- voice personal ads for dating and a service that takes classified ads for various publications after normal business hours.

Born in the Town of Tonawanda, he was a graduate of Clarence Central High School and attended Windham College in Vermont.

He began his business career as a management trainee at W.T. Grant Co., then worked for Metro Community News, becoming vice president for advertising.

While at Metro Community News, he developed voice personal ads, then went on to start a company, Datemaker, which handled voice personals for hundreds of newspapers across the United States and Canada.

He sold Datemaker and retired in the mid-1990s but grew restless and returned to voice personals with a new company, Direct Response Marketing, now Classified Plus, which employs more than 200 people and handles after-hours and overflow classified advertising calls for more than 200 newspapers, including the New York Times.

In the late 1990s, he became partners with former radio station owner Larry Levite in David Laurence Publications, which bought and revitalized Buffalo Spree magazine. It also publishes Forever Young, a monthly magazine for senior citizens, and the alternative weekly Buffalo Beat, later Blue Dog.

As a philanthropist, he was honored as a Buffalo News Citizen of the Year in 1997 after he donated a quarter of a million dollars to found Buffalo Builds, a program that taught disadvantaged young people a craft while saving run-down homes from demolition.

He told an interviewer then that he always supported charities.

"But I never felt that I, personally, actually touched a real person's life, and it was something that was always in the back of my mind," he said. "You kept hearing one word over and over, and that word was 'jobs.' I immediately thought that maybe this was where I could play a role."

Surviving are a son, Patrick; a brother, Denis; a sister, Heather McDuff Cassellberry; and his former wife, Maureen.

Services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday in St. Paul Lutheran Church, 453 Old Falls Blvd., North Tonawanda.


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