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Chauncey D. Cowles, 86, a fourth-generation Buffalo native and insurance executive who served as a Navy officer during World War II, died Saturday (Sept. 19, 1998) in his Buffalo residence after a brief illness.

He was a graduate of Lafayette High School and Hamilton College.

Cowles made numerous Atlantic crossings as a Navy communications and liaison officer aboard oil tankers. He held the rank of lieutenant at the end of the war.

As a Chartered Life Underwriter, he was president of the Buffalo chapters of the Buffalo Life Underwriters and the Chartered Life Underwriters. He had been a director and first vice president of the New York State Life Underwriters Association and was a member of the 1954 Nominating Committee of the National Association of Life Underwriters.

He was a trustee of the National Life Underwriter Training Council from 1951 to 1955, serving as its president in 1953. He was licensed by Northwestern Mutual Life during the first 38 years of his career. The remainder of his career was with the Landesman Agency and its predecessors.

In 1954, he was a founding member of the Institute on Federal Taxation in Buffalo. He was a member of the Alumni Council of Hamilton College from 1951 to 1955 and from 1988 to 1993. He was chairman of the Council for Retirement Income Security and Protection, Western New York, from 1985 to 1987.

Cowles was a partner of Benefits Counsel of New York from 1957 until 1966 when he became president of Chauncey D. Cowles & Co., Inc. In 1974, he and Warren A. Smith Jr., established Cowles/Smith & Co., He served a president and chairman of the company until he sold his interest to Smith in 1983.

He was a consultant to the successor company until 1989 and then a consultant to James W. Banigan & Sons. He maintained a consulting business until his death and went to his office in Williamsville every day until his recent illness.

Cowles was a life member of the University Club of Buffalo and its president in 1965. He also was a life member of the Mid-Day Club of Buffalo, a member of the Saturn Club and was president of the Buffalo Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution in 1991. He was a former member of the Country Club of Buffalo and the Tuscarora Club of Lockport.

Survivors include his wife of 36 years, the former Janet Crowley; two daughters, Louisa Paskins of Franklin County, Pa., and Julia K. of New York City; two sons, C. Deming IV of Washington, D.C., and Geoffrey C. of Buffalo; and five grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 4:30 p.m. Friday in Westminster Presbyterian Church, 724 Delaware Ave.[hdkns]

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