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Clifford E. Whitman, former Erie County Department of Senior Services Commissioner

Jan. 1, 1935 – July 28, 2015

Clifford E. Whitman of Amherst, who served as the first Erie County commissioner on aging, died Tuesday in Amherst. He was 80.

Born in Binghamton, he graduated from Johnson City High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from Harpur College (now SUNY Binghamton) in 1956 and his master’s of social work from Syracuse University in 1965. Mr. Whitman moved to the Buffalo area in 1971, which is when he began serving as the county’s first commissioner on aging. The current title for that position is commissioner of senior services.

As commissioner, he was responsible for the design and implementation of a number of programs and services that remain in place in the department, such as Coordinated Care and Protective Services for the Elderly – which is now Adult Protective Services – and Legal Services for the Elderly. He also introduced the Going Places Senior Transportation System, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Congregate Dining Program, which is now called the Stay Fit Dining Program.

He served as senior services commissioner until 1988.

From 1989 to 1995, Mr. Whitman was executive director of Concerned Ecumenical Ministry, a nonprofit human service agency on Buffalo’s West Side. And from 1998 to 2013, he served as a fieldwork supervisor for students pursuing their master’s of social work degrees at Meals on Wheels operated from the Amherst Senior Center.

Mr. Whitman participated in many aging advocacy and policy development groups. In 1993, he received the Dr. Evan Calkins Meritorious Service Award from the Network on Aging. In 2006, he was presented with the Vision Award from Legal Services for the Elderly. He was president of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and served on the advisory committee of Columbia University Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology, among many other committees and boards.

He also was a board member and grounds manager for the Graycliff Conservancy.

He is survived by a son, Ricky Briggs; two daughters, Megan and Lisa; and his former wife, Karen.

A memorial service will be held at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Graycliff, 6472 Old Lake Shore Road, Derby.

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