Killian Vetter, tireless human rights advocate, died Sunday in Deaconess Center. He was 81.
Born in Hubbard, Ohio, Mr. Vetter moved to Buffalo in his youth. He attended the Little Seminary on Dodge Street and a seminary in Gerard, Ohio. In 1945, when he was 18 years old, he was drafted into the Army, where he served stateside for two years.
Mr. Vetter often preferred to work behind the scenes to get things done during his long and distinguished career in public service.
He was executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union from 1968 to 1974.
Mr. Vetter served as a legislative assistant to former Erie County Legislator Joan K. Bozer for 14 years, during which time he worked on issues that addressed the concerns of many disadvantaged groups.
In 1987, he helped convene the Commission on the Homeless by inviting more than 30 public and private agencies providing services to the homeless to join a task force and begin working as a collective. The result was a $100,000 allocation from Erie County to bring dedicated resources that would provide services for the homeless.
He was one of the original volunteers at Crisis Services and often worked the phones there for several hours after having already put in a full day of work.
Mr. Vetter's compassion also led him to volunteer at many other local nonprofit organizations. He served as both a board member and president of the Mental Health Association, as well as Crisis Services, the Coalition for Health and Welfare, and the Erie County Family Life Community Advisory Board.
He also served as chairman of the Citizens Forum of Buffalo, a group he founded to advance the principles of freedom found in the U.S. Constitution.
Mr. Vetter received numerous community service awards, including Volunteer of the Year from the Mental Heal Association, Crisis Services and the New York Civil Liberties Union, all in 1976.
He also was honored with the Friendship Foundation Award and the New York State Mental Health Association Volunteer of the Year Award in 1987.
A year later, Mr. Vetter was recognized by The Buffalo News as a Citizen of the Year.
In 1992, Mr. Vetter waged an unsuccessful campaign to fill the 144th District Assembly seat following the death of Assemblyman William B. Hoyt.
He is survived by a sister, Agnes, and two brothers, Vincent and Bernard.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Assumption Catholic Church, 435 Amherst St.