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Leaders in business and government remember Robert Wilmers

As word of the sudden death of Robert G. Wilmers reached into the community, words of praise flowed in from those who knew and worked with him:

"While many will remember Bob Wilmers for his unparalleled skill in business, I will always remember him for his wonderful generosity and his love for Buffalo and WNY. Mr. Wilmers has been a tremendous asset to our community and his absence will leave a deep void that can never be replaced. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family and many friends today."

– Mayor Byron Brown

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“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our friend Robert Wilmers. For several decades, Mr. Wilmers displayed an unsurpassed commitment to the Western New York community and the effects of his commitment will be felt for generations. On behalf of the Bills, Sabres and Pegula Sports and Entertainment, we offer our condolences to the Wilmers family and the M&T Bank community. He will be greatly missed.”

– Terry and Kim Pegula

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“I was fortunate to know him as longtime supporter, a shorttime employer and a lifelong influence.

While he was not a Buffalonian by birth, History will remember him as one of Buffalo’s greatest boosters, a transformative leader who changed WNY forever. His passion for creating better educational opportunities for children under scored the depth of his humanity.  It is hard to imagine Buffalo without Bob Wilmers.”

– Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul

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"In Buffalo's darkest and most uncertain days, it was Bob Wilmers who stood up and saved what are arguably Buffalo's greatest assets: its cultural institutions. I used to say that Bob Wilmers and M&T Bank didn't lead everything, but they were behind everything that was good that was happening in Buffalo."

– Rep. Brian Higgins

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"It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of my friend Bob Wilmers. I had the good fortune to serve with him for 18 years on the M&T board. As a gentleman banker, there was none finer, and he was always supportive of Maid of the Mist. M&T became a major presence in the banking industry and the Western New York community with Bob at the helm. His leadership will be greatly missed. My condolences to Elisabeth and the Wilmers Family."

– James V. Glynn, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Maid of the Mist Corp.:

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"The generosity of Bob Wilmers touched every aspect Buffalo and Western New York. He made M&T not only a corporate giant, but made sure it remained human, investing in education, cultural institutions and family businesses. His genuine love for Buffalo will be hard to replace. Bob’s guidance and sage advice carried me though many difficult times during my tenure as mayor. Kate and I extend our deepest sympathies to Elisabeth, the Wilmers Family and the entire M&T community."

– Anthony M. Masiello, 57th Mayor of Buffalo,

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"He was a remarkable banker, an even more remarkable citizen and a wonderful friend."

– Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway

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"I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of M&T Chair and CEO Robert G. Wilmers. I knew Bob as a banking legend, colleague and competitor, but also as a friend. M&T's clients, employees and shareholders benefited from his leadership and steady guidance. The communities the bank serves, especially Buffalo NY, were fortunate to have someone with Bob's vision, values and commitment. My KeyBank colleagues and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the Wilmers family."

– Beth E. Mooney, KeyCorp Chair and CEO

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"Saddened to hear Bob Wilmers has passed on. He was not only a giant of the banking world, but also a dedicated public servant who cared deeply about making New York a better place to live. He will be missed."

– Gov. Andrew Cuomo, via Twitter

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‏ "Buffalo lost a friend, advocate and committed leader with the passing of Bob Wilmers. His vision and leadership helped create the Buffalo Niagara Partnership. Incredibly wise and generous with a lightning wit. I will miss his advice and guidance. Godspeed Bob and thank you for all you did for Buffalo.

– Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president and CEO Buffalo Niagara Partnership, via Twitter
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"There have been very few men who have done as much for Buffalo as Bob Wilmers has done. He was a brilliant banker and a thoroughly decent, caring man. My wife and I have spent many happy hours together with Bob and his wife. The loss is the Wilmers family’s, Buffalo’s and America’s."

– U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer

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"Woke to the news of Bob Wilmers sudden passing. Meeting him only once sufficed to know what a great man he was. May there be more like him."

– Jeffrey Gundlach, Albright Knox patron and CEO of Doubleline Capital, via Twitter

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"My deepest condolences are offered to Mrs. Elisabeth Wilmers and the entire M&T Bank family on the passing of Mr. Bob Wilmers. Mr. Wilmers built M&T into the institution it is today and I enjoyed our conversations. He will be missed."

– Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, via Twitter

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“To many, Bob Wilmers was the Chairman and CEO of M&T Bank. To me personally, he was an inspiration and professionally he was a mentor. ... Mr. Wilmers constantly went out of his way to make the lives of those that live here better through investments into the cultural, arts, and not for profit communities. It’s hard to spend a weekend in Erie County without making your way to an institution that his generosity hasn’t touched. At this time, my thoughts and prayers are with the Wilmers Family.”

– Stefan I. Mychajliw, Erie County Comptroller

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"I first met Mr. Wilmers in the early 1990s, at a time when he was grieving the tragic loss of his son, Robert Jr. I was moved by the deep sadness in his face, most evident in his eyes. And I recall thinking that this was a man who, as the poet Coleridge once wrote, 'thought deeply because he felt deeply.'

"I wrote Bob a brief note of sympathy for his family's loss, to which he replied with a poignant letter on the imperative of meeting life with determination, as that was the sole behavior with which one can honor the memory of those to whom life bequeaths less time.

"We had little in common, save for attending the same college, and a belief in the power of ideas to change people's life. Over the years, we agreed and disagreed on matters, in particular how best to reform government and achieve inclusive community. Bob was generous in his support of my reform efforts when he agreed. And honest and forthright on those occasions when he disagreed.

"Bob Wilmers was a gracious, understated man blessed with what Winston Churchill called a 'quiet mind,' uncluttered with extraneous matters, and thus acutely attuned to the challenge at hand. His dignified approach to public life set a standard to which all future Buffalo leaders shall aspire, and few will equal.

"My deepest sympathies and fervent prayers are with the Wilmers family, and all those who through his professional and community efforts, Bob lifted and inspired."

– Kevin Gaughan, government reform advocate

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