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Niagara County Family Court Judge Paul V. Crapsi is being remembered by his colleagues as a tough-minded but fair jurist who was devoted to his profession.

Crapsi, 56, a Youngstown resident, died Monday (Sept. 17, 2001) in Buffalo General Hospital, two weeks after he suffered chest pains in the Niagara County Building at Third Street and Cedar Avenue in Niagara Falls.

"Judge Crapsi was a dedicated jurist," said State Supreme Court Justice Vincent E. Doyle, administrative judge for the Eighth Judicial District. "He was extremely hard-working, which resulted in a quick but fair disposition of cases in his court. He was intensely devoted to justice in all matters that came before him both as a lawyer and a judge."

A former English teacher who worked his way through the University at Buffalo Law School, Crapsi served as staff attorney and acting director of the Niagara County Legal Aid Society. There, he worked almost exclusively in family law.

Crapsi had his own practice from 1979 to 1983, then worked for 10 years as an attorney for the City of Niagara Falls, serving as chief trial counsel for the city and a law adviser to the Niagara Falls Police Department.

In 1993, he was elected to a 10-year term as Niagara County Family Court judge and presided over numerous juvenile justice, child support and child custody cases.

In 1998, Crapsi presided over the cases of two youths accused in the fatal beating of 12-year-old Sean Gutschall as he walked home from Gaskill Middle School.

Last November, Crapsi was unsuccessful in the seven-way election for four State Supreme Court Justice seats in the Eighth Judicial District, which covers all eight Western New York counties.

Born in Buffalo, Crapsi was a graduate of Williamsville High School, where, as a champion interscholastic wrestler, he earned a four-year scholarship to Syracuse University.

After graduating from Syracuse, Crapsi taught English in the Williamsville School District. He later attended UB Law School while working full time at Westwood Pharmaceuticals.

Crapsi moved to Niagara Falls in the 1970s and lived there until moving to Youngstown in the mid-1990s.

The Niagara County Community College Student's Acknowledgment Award was given to Crapsi for his work in the juvenile justice system.

Surviving are his wife, Elizabeth Gee Crapsi; two sons, Paul V. Jr. of Buffalo and Carmen of Youngstown; a daughter, Savana L. of Youngstown; his mother, Virginia of Arizona; three sisters, Valerie Nigro of Arizona, Vanessa Harris of Colorado and Venita Fay of Pennsylvania; and two brothers, Vincent of Washington and Daniel of Arizona.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Friday in St. Bernard's Catholic Church, 218 Hinman St.

News Niagara Bureau Reporter Thomas J. Prohaska contributed to this report.

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