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Patrick J. Wrafter, 63, U.S. Labor Department investigator worked in quiet ways

Dec. 4, 1953 – June 14, 2017

Patrick J. Wrafter didn’t like to call attention to himself.

“He was very quiet about what good things he did,” said the Rev. Roy Herberger, pastor of SS. Columba & Brigid Catholic Church, who knew him from his volunteer work with Peace House, the parish’s ministry that provides housing and other help for refugees seeking asylum in the U.S.

“He was our financial coordinator,” Herberger said. “He came on the board, helped us find a building, did the books and kept everything in order. He was very dedicated, a very quiet, unassuming guy.”

Mr. Wrafter died Wednesday, June 14 in Hospice Buffalo in Cheektowaga, after a battle with cancer. He was 63.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, the oldest of six children, he came to South Buffalo with his parents at the age of 3. At Canisius High School, he discovered one of his passions – rowing. He was a member of the varsity crew team and, after graduating in 1971, went on to compete on the crew team at Canisius College.

With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, he joined the U.S. Department of Labor in 1977 as an investigator. He visited employers and work sites where there were complaints of labor law violations.

“He was tall and very strong,” his sister-in-law, Maria Wrafter, said. “They would send him into tough situations. Everybody regarded him as a man of honor, doing everything by the rules. He made everybody stand up straighter.”

While working at the Labor Department, he earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from SUNY Empire State College and, after he retired in 2004, he worked independently as a forensic accountant and as an investigator tracking down out-of-state businesses that owed New York State sales taxes.

He continued to row competitively for a few years at the West Side Rowing Club and helped instruct rowers there and elsewhere, notably at Bishop Timon High School, where he served as an assistant coach for the rowing team.

When he stopped rowing, he took up weightlifting and earned a trophy in a powerlifting competition in 1991.

Active in Mensa, the nondenominational international society of smart people, he would compete regularly with other members in the challenging Trivia Night at Founding Fathers Pub.

Survivors include his longtime companion, Sheila Lowke; four brothers, John “Sean,” Richard, Brian and Raymond; and a sister, Margaret Burzynski.

A Mass of Christian Burial was offered Saturday, June 17 in SS. Columba & Brigid Church, 75 Hickory St.

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