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Kurt Mayer, business leader, Holocaust survivor May 10,1932 -- May 24, 2012

Kurt Mayer, a business leader and Holocaust survivor, died May 24 in Duke University Hospital after a long illness. He was 80.

Mr. Mayer was a former Buffalo resident living in Ankara, Turkey.

Mr. Mayer, a native of Marpingen, Germany, was placed under house arrest along with his mother by the National Socialist Party after his father was arrested in Belgium following Kristallnacht in 1938.

He and his mother were later sheltered by the Catholic Church, living underground in church basements for almost five years. They survived many Allied air raids listening to the BBC and waiting to hear news of liberation.

The family arrived in New York City on a Navy troop transport ship in 1946.

Mr. Mayer attended Brooklyn College, earning a degree in finance and accounting. He went on to earn his MBA from New York University.

He was the deputy controller of CBS Columbia Records and moved to Buffalo in the late 1950s to work for Carborundum as a financial project manager. While working for Carborundum, he returned to Germany to manage reconstruction projects and returned to Buffalo in 1964.

His career took him to many places over the next few years, including New York City, and in 1973 he returned to Buffalo again, where he was the executive vice president and chief financial officer of Sierra Research Corp. In 1993, he was recruited by Loral Corporation as a project executive, moving to Ankara.

According to family members, he fell in love with the Turkish culture and stayed on as a professor of English language at Baskent University in Ankara. He was also a columnist for the Turkish Daily News and worked as a translator of the seven languages he spoke fluently.

He also worked for the U.S. Embassy in Ankara and was a board member of the Turkish American Association.

He enjoyed boating and traveled extensively in his later years. His daughter, Orchard Park resident Margaret Mayer, said that in spite of his many travels, he always considered himself "an American from Buffalo." He returned to the United States for treatment of a rare plasma cell cancer at Duke University Medical Center.

His first wife, Helen Johnson Mayer, died in 2003. He married Seren Ozenirler, a physician and professor of medicine at Gazi University in Ankara, in late 2003.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by a son, Peter.

A memorial service will be in August in Buffalo.