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James Verpoten, driving force for expansion of Goodwill Industries

Feb. 2, 1937 – May 19, 2016

James Verpoten, a driving force for the expansion of Goodwill Industries of WNY, died Thursday in Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Amherst. He was 79.

A lifelong resident of the Town of Tonawanda, he was a graduate of Kenmore West High School and Bryant & Stratton College.

Mr. Verpoten, along with his father, owned and operated the Highland Boot Shop, Hush Puppy Shoe Hut and Annex Dance Supplies in the Town of Tonawanda and on Grand Island.

From 1984 to 1998, he served as president and chief executive officer of Goodwill Industries of WNY. He was instrumental in orchestrating the opening of the Goodwill Building on William Street, and he worked collaboratively with Tops Markets to create the Mobile Donation Centers at its sites.

He later joined Goodwill International, where he used his management skills to strengthen struggling Goodwill Industries affiliates throughout the U.S. and Canada. He also acted as a one-time management delegate to the People’s Republic of China.

Mr. Verpoten received many awards for his dedication to Goodwill Industries and his accomplishments on behalf of the agency. He was a member of many professional and volunteer organizations. He was an avid and accomplished amateur photographer, and also was a Formula One amateur race car driver.

His wife of 48 years, the former Sandra Johnston, died in 2007.

He is survived by three sons, James Jr., Blake and Mark; a daughter, Leslie; and a sister, Susan Kollmar.

A memorial service will be held from to 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesday in C. Mertz & Son Funeral Home, 911 Englewood Ave., Town of Tonawanda.

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