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Theodore R. Fink, 95, retired chemist and patron of the arts

May 16, 1921 – March 20, 2017

Theodore R. Fink, a chemist who worked on the Manhattan Project locally during World War II and helped develop a basic element in Gorilla Glue, died March 20 in the Weinberg Campus, Getzville, after a short illness. He was 95.

Born in Buffalo, he attended Mount St. Joseph Elementary School, graduated from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and earned a degree in chemistry from Canisius College in 1942.

Mr. Fink trained at the Kankakee Ordnance Works in Illinois, then helped start and operate the Lake Ontario Ordnance Works in Lewiston, which manufactured TNT for explosives during World War II. Later in the war, he worked on the Manhattan Project at the Linde Air Ceramics Plant in the Town of Tonawanda, which processed uranium ore for the first atomic bomb.

He went on to work in the research laboratory at Allied Chemical’s Buffalo Dye Plant, where he developed the process to make the basic chemical later used in Gorilla Glue. He held a patent related to it and oversaw initial production of the chemical at a plant in West Virginia. He retired in 1984.

In retirement, he and his wife traveled extensively in the U.S., Canada, Europe and the Caribbean. For 20 years, they spent a winter month in Sarasota, Fla.,  at Siesta Key.

A collector and restorer of antiques and art objects, he donated many art objects to Canisius College, where he was a member of the President’s Council and was a Peter Canisius Fellow.

Mr. Fink was a life member of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and a patron of the Shaw Festival, the Stratford Festival, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Guild and the Buffalo Chamber Music Society.

A resident of Buffalo’s Central Park neighborhood before moving to Amherst, he was a member of the International Public Relations Association, the Buffalo Torch Club, the Buffalo Skating Club, the Buffalo Canoe Club and the Central Park Leoknights, a Catholic men’s discussion group in the 1950s and 1960s. For many years, he served as a lector at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Swormville.

His wife of 69 years, the former Dorothy M. Leiser, died last July.

Survivors include a son, Joseph T.; two daughters, Deborah Benczkowski and Martha Lisa Timmel; eight grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

Services were private.

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