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CLINTON C. COUHIG SR. DIES AT 90; COUNTY'S FIRST ELECTED COMPTROLLER

Clinton C. "Bud" Couhig Sr., 90, Erie County's first elected comptroller, died unexpectedly Saturday (March 28, 1998) in his Lackawanna home.

Couhig represented Lackawanna on the former Erie County Board of Supervisors for eight years. He was appointed comptroller on an interim basis in 1961 and won election to the post later that year when the new County Charter went into effect.

Born in Buffalo, he was a descendant of Richard Caldwell, the first settler in the part of West Seneca that later became Lackawanna.

An excellent runner and an outstanding overall athlete as a youth, he won letters in football, basketball, baseball and track at Lackawanna High School. While taking a postgraduate semester at South Park High School in 1924, he was All-High quarterback.

In 1930, he was the Niagara Association AAU sprint champion in both the 100-yard and 220-yard dashes.

He was appointed to the Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md., where he was a member of the football and track teams before bad eyesight forced him to withdraw. He completed his bachelor's degree at Canisius College, where he ran track and was noted for his speed as a football halfback. He earned his master's degree in education there in 1948.

After serving for two years as director of Lackawanna's municipal playgrounds, he became a teacher at Lackawanna High School. During the 1930s, he was head of the science department and served as director of athletics.

As an officer in the Naval Reserve after leaving the Naval Academy, he was called to active duty in World War II, serving four years and winning two air medals in the Philippines as a flight navigator with the Black Cat Squadron. He also was a navigation instructor at various Navy schools and was academic director of the North Carolina Pre-Flight School.

After the war, he returned to be assistant principal at Lackawanna High School. Gov. Thomas Dewey named him to his first government post, Lackawanna Civil Service commissioner, in 1947.

Becoming chairman of the Lackawanna Republican Committee, a post he held for 10 years, he successfully ran for supervisor in 1949 as a Republican in a heavily Democratic district and won re-election three times. As a supervisor, at one time he served simultaneously on 14 committees and was chairman of two of them.

He stepped down as a supervisor for health reasons in 1957, served as administrative assistant to the Lackawanna school superintendent and made an unsuccessful bid to return to the Board of Supervisors in 1959.

Republicans chose him as a compromise appointee for comptroller in 1961, and he won election to the post that November. He was defeated for a second term in 1965 by Henry J. Nowak, who later became a congressman, and returned to his school post, retiring in 1970.

A commander in the Naval Reserve after the war, he continued serving until 1967, when he retired with the rank of captain.

He was honored by the Lackawanna schools in 1983 when they named a sports complex for him and another star athlete. The Lackawanna Area Chamber of Commerce honored him as its Citizen of the Year in 1984.

He served as an official for football, track and boxing, was an AAU track judge and was in charge of assigning football and basketball referees in the Niagara Frontier High School League for 10 years. He also coached amateur football teams in Buffalo, Lackawanna and Hamburg.

He also served as president of the 8th Assembly Committeemen's Association and for four years was a member of the Board of Governors of Canisius College. He was a member of Matthew Glab Post 1477, American Legion; Col. John B. Weber Post 898, Veterans of Foreign Wars; the Limestone Club; and the Blackthorn Club.

He also was a member of Our Lady of Victory Holy Name Society; Father Baker Council, Knights of Columbus; and Buffalo Assembly, fourth-degree Knights of Columbus.

He and Leona Marie Hollsten were married in 1931. She died in 1980.

Survivors include two sons, Clinton Jr. and Dennis, both of Lackawanna, and six grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday in Our Lady of Victory Basilica, Ridge Road and South Park Avenue, Lackawanna. Burial will be in Lakeside Cemetery, Town of Hamburg.

[Anderson].

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