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John R. Van Son, 89, radio and recording engineer, Motorola sales executive

March 3, 1928 – April 2, 2017

John Robert Van Son, a former Buffalo radio and recording engineer, died unexpectedly April 2 after becoming ill at his home in Southlake, Texas. He was 89.

Born in Buffalo, he grew up on the family farm in Attica and was a 1945 graduate of Attica High School. He earned his FCC first class operating license for broadcast engineering from the Buffalo Radio Institute and taught evening classes there for seven years.

Mr. Van Son began his broadcasting career at radio station WBEN and went on to serve as chief engineer for Richard H. Ullman Inc. and Howell Recording Studios, recording artists such as Les Paul, Louis Armstrong and Aretha Franklin.

His recording of Allen Herschel playing the calliope was used to provide the musical background for Herschel carrousels.

He joined Motorola as a communication sales representative in 1955 and became a zone, regional and district manager for the company. He was transferred to Hawaii in 1971 and later worked in Houston, Texas. He retired in 1989 as area sales manager in the Dallas, Texas, office.

He was an amateur radio enthusiast with call letters W2JUA. He also enjoyed gardening, photography, traveling and collecting big band records. In Dallas, he hosted a show on an FM radio station playing big band music from his collection.

Mr. Van Son attended all but one of his annual high school class reunions from 1995 to 2016.

For 15 years, he taught people who didn’t speak English how to read, write and speak the language.
He became a licensed pilot in the late 1960s and flew single-engine planes. In retirement, he was an avid bicyclist and toured Holland, Italy, Austria, Germany and France by bike. Recently he started to learn the ukulele.

He was a longtime member of Master Builder Lodge 911, Free & Accepted Masons, in Kenmore.

His first marriage in 1949 to the former Allene E. Rankin ended in divorce. He was remarried in 1971 to the former Marilyn Kie.

Ssurvivors also include a sister, Carole Pope; three daughters, Patricia Szabo, Linda Jean Cranmer and Paula Connors; a son, John E.; six grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. July 25 in West Middlebury Baptist Church, 4950 W. Middlebury Road, East Bethany.

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