Jan. 8, 1942 – Sept. 19, 2017
William F. Barrett was 47 when he sold the Angola insurance business founded by his father, but he didn't slow down in his early retirement. He remained a director of Evans National Bank for another two decades, and he continued to pursue his interests in traveling with his family, driving his beloved Corvettes, shooting trap and downhill skiing.
He remained active after his diagnosis with multiple sclerosis 29 years ago, and after he began to use a wheelchair 14 years ago.
Mr. Barrett rigged up his wheelchair to allow him to continue to shoot trap, and when he could no longer shoot himself, according to his wife, he would go to the gun club with his grandson, Ryan, and offer him pointers as he shot.
"He was very determined, and he was a very strong individual," said his wife of 49 years, the former Mary Ann Catalano.
Mr. Barrett, of Spotsylvania, Va., and Derby, died Sept. 19 in his Virginia home of complications from MS. He was 75.
Born in Angola, where he spent most of his life, Mr. Barrett was a graduate of Lake Shore High School and the University at Buffalo. He joined the Air Force Reserves while in college, stationed at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
Mr. Barrett was activated during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and put on alert, but he and his fellow airmen were never sent to South Florida or Cuba, his wife recalled. "It was scary," she said.
He left the Reserves in 1969.
He joined the Carl E. Barrett Insurance Agency after graduating from UB and worked there for about 25 years.
Mary Ann Barrett said clients remembered her husband's financial flexibility. If they couldn't pay their entire insurance bill up front, she said, they would pay $10 or $20 a week until they had paid it off. "He would accept that," she said.
He stayed on as an Evans National Bank director until retiring from that position at 65 after 34 years.
After retiring from the insurance industry, Mr. Barrett had more time to travel. The family went to Maine, Vermont, California and, while he used a cane, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and Germany.
He downhill skied until about 15 years ago.
Mr. Barrett never complained about his MS diagnosis, his wife said, even after he had to use a wheelchair, or after he had to give up the Corvettes he enjoyed driving.
He was able to drive himself, using hand controls, until the last two years, when he needed to be driven in a wheelchair-accessible van.
"Having the MS didn't stop him from being a great person," his wife said.
Mr. Barrett lived in Angola most of his life but moved into a wheelchair-accessible home in Derby about seven years ago. Mr. Barrett and his wife had wintered in Florida for 17 years but started spending winters in Virginia in 2012.
He was a member of the Masons and two related organizations, the Consistory and the Shriners. He also belonged to the Evans Rod and Gun Club, Hamburg Rod and Gun Club and Angola Volunteer Fire Department.
In addition to his wife and his grandson, survivors include a daughter, Lynn Marie Dyl; a son, Craig; a brother, Robert; and two other grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held Monday, Sept. 25.