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Brian J. Lipke, chairman of the board of Gibraltar Steel Corp., has been named Executive of the Year by the Muscular Dystrophy Association of Western New York.

Lipke and others, including the association's Humanitarian of the Year, the late Lou Billittier, owner of Chef's Restaurant, and the Ronald Offhaus Award recipient, Carol Palczewski of Scandia Tours, were to be honored Saturday evening at a black-tie dinner in Adam's Mark Hotel.

Lipke became chairman and chief executive officer of Gibraltar Steel in 1992. He is a volunteer for Daemen College, the YMCA of Greater Buffalo and Children's Hospital.

Salvatore Marranca, president and chief executive of Cattaraugus County Bank, has begun a two-year term as secretary of the Independent Community Bankers of America, a 5,300-member trade association of community banks and thrifts.

As a result of the nomination, Marranca also will hold a voting membership on the organization's executive committee. His bank has its headquarters in Little Valley.

H. Kirk Williams, former chairman and publisher of the Dunkirk Evening Observer and a member of the Fredonia College Council from 1965 to 1996, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters during Fredonia State College's commencement May 12.

The honorary degree, from the State University of New York board of trustees, will recognize Williams' long service to Fredonia State.

Chairman of its council from 1968 to 1996, he oversaw three searches for a new college president and with his wife, Nancy, established the first endowed professorship at the college with $500,000 -- the largest personal gift in the history of the Fredonia College Foundation.

Williams holds the SUNY Chancellor's Council Service Award and the Career Service and Distinguished Service awards of the Association of Council Members and College Trustees of SUNY.

Fredonia State's former Campus Center was renamed the Williams Center in 1996 in his honor.

Williams is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served as an aircraft commander in the Air Force's Strategic Air Command before joining the Dunkirk Evening Observer, then owned by his family, as president and chief operating officer.

Four graduates of St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute will be honored at the school's annual Signum Fidei dinner Saturday.

"Signum Fidei," Latin for sign of faith, is the motto of the Brothers of St. John Baptist de la Salle, who have operated St. Joseph's since its founding in 1861. The Signum Fidei Society was founded in 1984 to honor graduates of the school for career achievement.

This year's honorees are John Berger, J. Michael Lennon, Dr. Frank T. Schreck and, in memoriam, Bishop Leo R. Smith.

Berger, a 1956 graduate, is owner and president of John G. Berger Insurance Agency in Williamsville. He received a bachelor's degree in accounting from St. Bonaventure University and served in the Army before beginning his career in insurance. He is a past director of the Insurance Club of Buffalo and the Independent Agents of Western New York and is a past trustee of St. Joe's.

Lennon, a member of the 1964 graduating class, attended Colgate University and the University at Buffalo Law School. He is a former first deputy assistant district attorney for Erie County and is now a principal in Edward C. Cosgrove Attorneys in Buffalo. He is an adjunct professor of business law at Canisius College and the 2000 recipient of the Thomas More Guild Award, given to an outstanding Catholic lawyer.

Schreck, a member of the Class of 1971, received his bachelor's degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from the University at Buffalo Medical School. He is the founder and president of Orchard Park Pediatrics and a clinical professor of pediatrics at the medical school. He received the John S. Paroski Award as educator of the year from Children's Hospital.

Smith, an alumnus of the class of 1922, served in numerous pastoral positions in the Diocese of Buffalo and became auxiliary bishop under Bishop Joseph Burke in 1952. In February 1963, Pope John XXIII named him bishop of Ogdensburg. He died in Rome while attending the Second Vatican Council.

James L. Blackwell, 14, son of Mark and Sylvia Blackwell of Cowlesville, and Nathan Heinrich, 15, son of James and Cynthia Heinrich of East Aurora, recently became Eagle Scouts in Boy Scout Troop Court of Honor ceremonies in First Baptist Church of Marilla, the troop's sponsor.

Blackwell, a freshman at Iroquois Central High School, organized and supervised the rehabilitation of an old chicken coop and the construction of an outdoor pen for the rearing of pheasant chicks as his Eagle Scout project. Thirty-five pheasant chicks were then raised from the time they were a day old until they were 8 weeks old for the Erie County Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs.

The chicks were supplied by the Department of Environmental Conservation. The program was administered by the Erie County 4-H organization.

Blackwell is involved in Tri-Town Recreation baseball and soccer programs and wrestling at school. He is a member of the National Junior Honor Society and has received several awards, including his school's Outstanding Achievement Award and President's Award for Educational Excellence.

Heinrich, a member of the Iroquois Central High School Class of 2003, is involved in interscholastic baseball, basketball and football and is listed in "Who's Who Among High School Students."

For his Eagle Scout project, he organized and supervised the design, procurement of funds and materials and labor to install foundation landscaping at Town Line Lutheran Church's new building addition. The project included the removal of existing overgrown shrubs, cultivating existing soil, planting numerous new shrubs, bushes and trees and placement of stone bedding cover.

James Heinrich is scoutmaster of Troop 290.

The Ladies Auxiliary of the Town Line Volunteer Fire Department, 6507 Broadway, Lancaster, has honored Mary Blair of Lancaster for 50 years of service to the organization.

She served as president for 25 of those years, vice president for 12 years, secretary for five years and chaplain for one year. In 1963, she served as both president and vice president.

Blair was presented a watch and proclamations from then-President Bill Clinton as well as other federal, state and local officials.

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