Sept. 8, 1927 – Dec. 29, 2013
Wilfred A. O’Donnell, a retired certified public accountant and tax consultant, died Sunday in his East Amherst home following a months-long illness. He was 86.
Born in Buffalo, he grew up in the Valley in the city’s Old First Ward where, as a child, he collected broken glass that he sold for 25 cents a bushel to help his family make ends meet.
As a teenager, Mr. O’Donnell participated in the citywide Golden Gloves tournament and fought his way into the finals, losing only one fight. In 1944, he graduated from Kensington High School before enlisting in the Navy, where he served as a signalman first class, assigned to the Pacific.
After completing his military service, Mr. O’Donnell moved to Washington, D.C., where he worked for the FBI filing records by day and taking night classes towards earning a law degree. His plans were changed during a trip back home to Buffalo, where he met his future wife, the former Rita Jane Conlin, at a dance at Kleinhans Music Hall. The couple married in 1950 and raised nine children. Mrs. O’Donnell died in January 2013.
Upon his return to Buffalo, Mr. O’Donnell began taking accounting classes at Canisius College, from which he graduated cum laude in 1952. He became a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in 1960. Mr. O’Donnell’s first job was with Peat, Marwick & Mitchell. He eventually moved to the firm now known as Lumsden & McCormick, where he became partner in charge of the corporate tax department.
After his retirement in 1989, Mr. O’Donnell worked as a tax consultant for Wiggle, Wiggle & Co. and began studying Korean tae kwon do. At age 73, he became one of the oldest people in Buffalo to earn a black belt in the martial art. He followed that up with a second-degree black belt at age 79.
Mr. O’Donnell was a two-time president of the Greater Buffalo Advertising Club, in 1974 and 2000. He also was chairman of the Western New York March of Dimes in 1979 and a member of the board of Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital from 1983 to 1992.
He is survived by three daughters, Claire Andrews, Eileen, and Susan Kirkpatrick; six sons, Thomas, Kenneth, Gerard, John, Douglas and Brian; and 24 grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 6919 Transit Road, Swormville.