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Standing ovations, glowing speeches, a painting of the Horseshoe Falls and a basket filled with gifts were all part of a community appreciation luncheon Thursday to honor civic and business leader Aubrey Blackwell.

"Looking back, the best opportunity we had was getting to know all of you in the Niagara community. That's the most important thing that happened to us. You all treated us like family," Blackwell told the 267 people who attended the luncheon in the Best Western Red Jacket Inn, 7001 Buffalo Ave.

Blackwell, former vice president of Western New York operations for Occidental Chemical Corp. and former acting dean of the College of Business at Niagara University, plans to leave the Niagara Falls area Saturday to return to his home in Darien, Conn.

"Besides his work at Occidental, Aubrey gave a lot of his time to the community as a volunteer. He was a community-minded individual," said Jonathan M. Schultz, vice president of Maid of the Mist Corp., who was one of several speakers at the luncheon.

Blackwell attended the farewell luncheon with his wife, Ginny.

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