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Norman E. Gannon, funeral director was in charge of moving Father Baker’s remains to basilica

March 5, 1925 – March 26, 2016

Norman E. Gannon, a retired Lackawanna funeral director, died Saturday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst, after a brief illness. He was 91.

A native of Lackawanna, as a youth he served as an altar boy for Father Nelson Baker in Our Lady of Victory Basilica. After graduating from Lackawanna High School in 1943, he served in the Navy Air Corps stateside, then graduated from the Simmons School of Mortuary Science in Syracuse.

Mr. Gannon served his apprenticeship at the Thomas V. Ray Funeral Home at Franklin and Edward streets in Buffalo. Upon completion in 1947, he was granted one of New York State’s new funeral director’s licenses and carried License No. 4.

He opened his first funeral home on Rosary Avenue in Lackawanna, then in the early 1950s purchased the last empty lot on Ridge Road, where he built the first facility outside the City of Buffalo designed specifically for a funeral home.

Mr. Gannon was chosen by the Diocese of Buffalo as the official funeral director in charge of the disinterment and transfer of the remains of Father Nelson Baker from Holy Cross Cemetery to Our Lady of Victory Basilica in 1999.

He retired in 2000 and turned operation of the funeral home over to his twin sons, Brenden and Brian. In retirement, he became a master shipwright, building nearly two dozen elaborate model wooden ships.

A resident of Lackawanna and Ellicottville, he was active in many civic and religious organizations, including the Holy Name Society and Ushers Club at Our Lady of Victory Basilica; the Fourth Degree and Senior Knights at Father Baker Council 2243, Knights of Columbus; and the Knights of Equity at the Buffalo Irish Center.

He also was a 70-year member of Matthew Glab Post 1477, American Legion, and a former member of Our Lady of Victory Infant Home-Baker Victory Service and the Ellicottville Historical Society. He was a charter member of the Steel Plant Museum. In Ellicottville, he was a member of Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church.

Survivors include his wife of 69 years, the former Elizabeth A. Donahue; four sons, Norman E. Jr., Brenden J., Brian J. and Kevin B.; two daughters, Anne Marie Cumbo and Maureen E. Burns; 20 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Thursday in Our Lady of Victory Basilica, South Park Avenue and Ridge Road, Lackawanna.

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