Aug. 30, 1936 – June 14, 2017
There was no single achievement that earned Brant Town Justice Clark H. Borngraber a plaque last year on the town’s Wall of Fame. There were many.
As Assemblyman David DiPietro noted in a proclamation accompanying the honor, “Mr. Borngraber has dedicated much of his life to serving the Town of Brant in numerous roles.”
He died after a short illness Wednesday, June 14 in his home, next door to the house where he was born. He was 80.
He attended a two-room elementary school, Brant No. 4, and was a member of the first graduating class from Lake Shore Central High School in 1954.
Before his father died in 1950, he was mowing lawns for pay. While still in high school, he was an attendant and mechanic at Ditcher’s service station on Route 20. During the next few years, he continued to have multiple jobs – as a delivery driver, a mechanic at other service stations in the area and as a doorman at Lerczak’s Log Cabin, a popular lakefront bar.
In 1961, he became a Town of Brant police constable, a post he held for 21 years. He served as chief constable from 1967 to 1970.
At the same time, he was a rough carpenter for Ahrens & Wells, an Angola contractor, then worked for seven years as a mechanic, foreman and equipment operator for Sackett Gravel Products in Silver Creek.
In the 1970s, he was an operator mechanic for the International Union of Operating Engineers in Buffalo, then became a service manager for Gateway Equipment Co. in Buffalo. He also took a variety of part-time jobs paving and landscaping.
When his wife founded DM&K Enterprises in 1977, a lawn care, landscaping and snowplowing business, he coordinated the jobs and oversaw a staff of as many as 30 employees.
“He was every customer’s best contractor,” his daughter, Rebecca Mlacker said. “He was super strict. He wanted everything done perfectly.”
In 1977, he also joined the Brant Town Highway Department, where he was a mechanic and equipment operator for five years.
He went on to serve the town as a fire warden and assessor, then was elected to the Town Board in 2009 with the help of an unusual campaign gimmick.
Looking for something to hand out to voters as he campaigned, he followed his wife’s suggestion – packets of hand sanitizer. After his daughter found some at a bargain price at a dollar store, he removed the labels and added his name and campaign slogan.
“It just kind of caught on,” he told The Buffalo News at the time. “Wherever I thought someone had a little bit of humor in their body, I said, ‘Help me clean up the town,’ and they thought it was wonderful.”
After serving a four-year term, he ran successfully in 2013 for town justice, a post he held at the time of his death.
A sportsman, Mr. Borngraber served as a big game hunting guide in Wyoming and booked hunting expeditions in British Columbia. His trophies included elk, antelope, mule deer and a moose, which he killed two years ago in Maine.
He was a longtime president of the Smith Mills Game Farm in the Town of Hanover, an endowment member of the National Rifle Association, a life member of S.C.O.P.E., a former president and life member of the Evans Rod and Gun Club and a member of Pheasants Forever.
A longtime member of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Farnham, he served several terms on the church council and was property chairman. He also was an associate director of the Holy Cross Cemetery Association and the Brant Cemetery Association.
“He was a very busy guy,” his daughter said. “He never slowed down.”
In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of 46 years, the former Donna Nearhoof; a son, R. Bradley; two sisters, Jean Brunelli and Joyce Cullen; a granddaughter and a great-granddaughter.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, June 19 in Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 599 Church St., Farnham.