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Levant M. Himelein, who practiced law in Gowanda for 49 years, died Friday (Jan. 28, 2000) in Florida at the age of 76.

At the time of his death, he was a patient in Bon Secours Venice Hospital, Venice Fla.

Himelein was born in Gowanda and graduated from Gowanda Central School and Hobart College. A World War II Army veteran, he served with a field artillery unit.

In 1947, he graduated from the University of Buffalo with a law degree and went to work for for the Frederic Weyand law firm in Buffalo and Gowanda.

He moved to Gowanda in 1950 to open his own law practice and retired in early 1999 after 49 years. During that time, he served 30 years as attorney for the Town of Perrysburg.

Himelein was a member of the Cattaraugus County, Erie County and New York State Bar associations.

Frederic H. Weyand of Gowanda praised Himelein.

"He was a good lawyer and honest gentleman and a credit to his profession, he said. "Whatever he told you, you could take it to the bank.

Himelein also is remembered for his distinctive dress.

"He was a first-class gentleman and always wore a bow tie, sort of his trademark, said Cattaraugus County Judge Michael L. Nenno of Olean. "He and his wife were loyal Democrats. He was probably the most liberal Democrat in this county.

As a member of the Cattaraugus County Democratic Committee for many years, Himelein would organize party supporters in rural areas, often playing a role in campaigns from behind the scenes.

His political savvy was an influence on his son, Larry M., who was elected in 1981 as Cattaraugus County district attorney, serving 10 years before being elected to his current post, Cattaraugus County judge.

Paul B. Kelly of Allegany, a former Cattaraugus County Democratic Party Chairman and a retired Cattaraugus County judge, called Himelein "a distinguished gentleman, a fine lawyer and a very quiet and capable man.

Himelein, known by many as "Hoppy, served as commander, judge advocate and director of Post 409, American Legion, in Gowanda. He also was a member of the Kiwanis Club, Ambulance Service, Chamber of Commerce, St. Mary's Episcopal Church and a charter member of Gowanda Country Club.

He and his wife, Barbara, were married 52 years.

Survivors also include three sons, Larry M. of Gowanda, Neil of Wilmington, Del., and Hans of Elizabethtown; two daughters, Deborah Cole of Greenville, S.C., and Melissa of Ashville, N.C.; a sister, Doris Currie of Jamestown; and eight grandchildren.

Family members will schedule a May memorial service in St. Mary's Episcopal Church on Center Street.

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