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Fred F. Vidal Sr., 69, of Eden, a former Erie County official and former chairman of the county Conservative Party, died Saturday (Sept. 18, 1999) in Mercy Hospital after a long illness.

Vidal was named director of the county Criminal Justice Department's Stop Driving While Intoxicated Program by County Executive Edward Rutkowski in 1983. He served until 1988.

Active in the Conservative Party since 1964, he was a state committeeman and served as executive secretary for the county party before he was named chairman in 1986.

Known for his close ties with Rutkowski and Buffalo Mayor James Griffin, he left the post in 1988 after a disputed special election in a bitter party fight.

Born in Lackawanna, he was a graduate of South Park High School and went to work at Bethlehem Steel Corp. in 1948 as a laborer in the blast furnace.

After serving in the Army in the Korean War, he returned to Bethlehem as a crane operator, then became a supervisor, first as belt foreman, then as dock foreman, overseeing all the port operations for the steel plant. Promoted to chief foreman in 1981, he retired in 1983.

He studied criminal justice at Jamestown Community College and management, human and labor relations at Erie Community College. In 1981, he graduated from the Chautauqua County Sheriff's Training Academy and became a certified police officer.

He became a reserve Erie County sheriff's deputy in 1979 and a full-time deputy in 1984. He was captain of the Town of Eden Police Group from 1971 to 1975 and became Eden Civil Defense director in 1980.

He was county coordinator for the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation from 1972 to 1975. He also provided snowmobile safety training.

He was a life member of the Disabled American Veterans. He also was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion in Eden, the Knights of Columbus and the American Diabetes Association.

He enjoyed hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and motorcycling.

He and Elaine Fassel were married in 1953.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a brother, Raymond of Phoenix, and three sisters, Pilar Langan of South Buffalo, Liberty Roder of Phoenix and Anita Renskowski of Hamburg.

Services were held today in Lakeside Memorial Funeral Home, Hamburg. Entombment was in Holy Cross Cemetery, Lackawanna.


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