In 1953, Earl Aylor followed an older brother from Virginia to Western New York to work in underground construction, building tunnels. Four years later, he had worked his way up to foreman just in time to help build the huge tunnels that carry water 4 1/2 miles from the Niagara River to the Niagara Power Project in Niagara Falls.
Mr. Aylor died Friday in his Grand Island home. He was 81.
Born in Madison County, Va., Mr. Aylor served in the Navy on the Landing Ship Tank 127 in four major campaigns in the Pacific during World War II. He married Eleanor Knighting after his military service. The couple moved to Niagara Falls, where they lived briefly before settling on Grand Island.
Mr. Aylor, who was active in the community, was a member of Island Presbyterian Church.
After he was promoted to foreman, he went on to supervise crews on various underground construction projects, from railroad tunnels to subways. He was the supervisor on the construction of a 20-foot diameter tunnel for the subway system in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Aylor also supervised the construction of tunnels under various rivers and two that extended for more than a mile under Lake Ontario.
He served as vice president of Greenwood Dumont Constructors in the late 1960s, through the 1970s. He also helped found Chief Enterprises, of which he was a major stockholder and corporate secretary in the 1980s. Both entities were engaged in tunnel construction. Mr. Aylor retired in 1987.
In addition to his wife of 58 years, Mr. Aylor is survived by two sons, Gary and Richard, and a daughter, Carolyn Aylor McKibben.
A memorial service will be at 7 p.m., Wednesday in Island Presbyterian Church, 1822 Huth Road, Grand Island.