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Andrew Bottaro, 74, of East Amherst, a retired rocket lab director, died Thursday (Jan. 21, 1999) in McAuley Residence of Kenmore Mercy Hospital after a long battle with cancer.

Born in Buffalo, he was a graduate of School 77 and Burgard Vocational High School and was a three-time Jesse Ketchum Medal winner.

Upon his graduation from Burgard in 1942, he was one of a select group of students specially trained for jobs at Bell Aircraft Corp. He earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University and was inducted into Pi Tau Alpha, the national mechanical engineering honor society.

He returned to Bell's aerospace rockets department in 1949, when the operation was in its infancy, and worked in a number of capacities, advancing to director of rocket labs. He was involved in every major rocket program of the American space effort, including Mercury, Gemini and Apollo.

In 1987, when the operation was purchased by Atlantic Research, he continued as manager of rocket labs until ill health forced his retirement a few years later.

He held a private pilot's license and enjoyed the arts, bowling, golf and bridge.

Surviving are his wife of 48 years, the former Josephine Giannoni; two sons, Drew of Massachusetts and Dr. Jeffrey of California; a sister, Eleanor Regnia of Amherst; and three grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday in Amigone Funeral Home, 2600 Sheridan Drive, Town of Tonawanda.

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