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GEORGE J. HIGGINS SR., BARTENDER OF RENOWN

George J. Higgins Sr. of the Town of Tonawanda, a renowned Buffalo-area bartender, died Monday (Jan. 25, 2000) in Kenmore Mercy Hospital after a brief illness. He was 71.

Born in Buffalo, he was a 1945 graduate of Hutchinson-Central High School. Upon graduation, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served for four years at Camp Lejeune, S.C. During the Korean War, he was a member of the Marine Corps Reserve and was stationed in Buffalo.

Returning from service, he was a production worker for Moore Business Forms in Niagara Falls. He got his first bartending job at Lake Shore Restaurant in Hamburg, then worked for seven years in hospitality at Mil-Sher Lanes, Town of Tonawanda.

He then worked for 12 years at The Place in Buffalo and for 12 years at McMahon's Restaurant in Snyder, where he made hundreds of friends, including numerous celebrities and sports figures. He was known for his storytelling, his jokes and his occasional matchmaking skills. He retired in 1992.

Active in St. Andrew's Catholic Church, he prepared the altar for Mass at 6:10 a.m. each day. He also regularly attended the Monday night Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He was a regular usher at St. Timothy's Catholic Church at 4:30 p.m. Saturdays and was an active supporter of Our Lady of Fatima Shrine in Lewiston.

He was active in the Korean War Veterans and Brounshidle Post 205, American Legion. He was an avid Boston Red Sox fan.

As a young man, Higgins was a member of the West Side Rowing Club, where he was a national-champion oarsman.

Survivors include his wife of nine years, the former Carolyn Marsowicz; four daughters, Kathleen Kanaley of Kenmore, Judith Shand and Margaret Meyer, both of the Town of Tonawanda, and Lori Cox of Orlando, Fla.; three sons, George of Kenmore, John of the Town of Tonawanda and Michael of Orlando; two stepdaughters, Kathleen Silvas of the Town of Tonawanda and Denise Gates of West Seneca; a stepson, Kenneth Wojciechowski of Clarence; a sister, Mary Margaret Podlewski of Amherst; and 27 grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in St. Andrew's Church, 1325 Sheridan Drive, Town of Tonawanda, after prayers at 9 in D. Lawrence Ginnane Funeral Home, 3215 Delaware Ave., Kenmore. Burial will be in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Town of Tonawanda.

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