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Michael V. Walters, former county commissioner Aug. 14, 1944 -- Nov. 4, 2007

From volunteering as a firefighter with his local department to running Erie County's Department of Emergency Services, Michael V. Walters devoted more than 30 years to community service.

He served as Angola's mayor, as well.

Mr. Walters died Sunday in his Brant home after a 15-month battle with cancer. He was 63.

"He was a good friend and a trusted adviser, when it comes to issues of emergency services," County Executive Joel A. Giambra said Monday. "The emergency services community, and the entire community, is going to miss his professionalism and expertise."

Born in Angola, Mr. Walters graduated from Lake Shore Central High School in 1963. He served with the Navy during the Vietnam War and was an active reservist through 1968.

Mr. Walters' work in emergency services began with the Evans Center Volunteer Fire Company. Following a brief career in life and health insurance sales, he became the assistant coordinator of emergency medical services in Erie County in 1972.

He became coordinator in 1978, then deputy commissioner of the county's Department of Emergency Services in 1986.

Mr. Walters entered the political arena in 1989, when he was elected an Angola trustee. He served in that capacity until 1993, when he was elected mayor. He won a second term in 1997 but resigned in 2000 when he moved out of the village.

In 1998, meanwhile, he was appointed county emergency services commissioner. During his tenure, the county upgraded its emergency communications system to a statewide wireless network.

Following his retirement in December 2005, the departments of Emergency Services and Central Police Services merged to create a Department of Public Safety.

Mr. Walters served on many boards related to emergency services and was recognized in 1994 by the National Association of Counties for a Hepatitis B vaccination program for emergency services.

Mr. Walters was a former executive director of the Western New York Stress Reduction program, which was formed to minimize the stress suffered by first responders, including police, firefighters and medical personnel.

At the time of his death, Mr. Walters was a project manager for L. Robert Kimball & Associates, an architecture and engineering firm based in State College, Pa.

He was a motorcycle enthusiast; following a September 2006 cross-country motorcycle ride he was diagnosed with cancer.

He also enjoyed hunting.

Survivors include his wife, the former Karen Kashino; a son, Christian; a brother, Peter; and a sister, Molly Blatt.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Friday in Most Precious Blood Catholic Church, 22 Prospect St., Angola.

-- Janice Habuda

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