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He was "only" a maintenance worker at Buffalo's federal courthouse, but James Wilson took his job very seriously.

He was a close observer of legal proceedings. Every work day, he would spend time in earnest discussions with everyone from judges to security officers about the latest courthouse news.

"He talked to everyone, and everybody liked him," said Linda Lewis, courtroom deputy to U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio. "He's really going to be missed."

Mr. Wilson died in his sleep Sunday in his Buffalo home. He was 44. Family members said an autopsy is being conducted.

"The people at the courthouse were like his second family," said his sister, Jamie Daniels of Buffalo. "The people there meant so much to him."

An employee of Phoenix Frontier, Mr. Wilson had been assigned to Michael Dillon Federal Courthouse for 16 years.

"James really cared about his community," said Lewis. "It really bothered him if he saw a young person he knew in trouble at federal court. He would actually try to mentor these people. He'd tell them, 'I'm in federal court because I work here, but you need to stay away from this place.' "

A lifelong resident of Buffalo who was called "Terry" by family members, Mr. Wilson graduated from South Park High School. He enjoyed attending plays and concerts. He was a member of Mount Moriah Baptist Church on Northampton Street.

Besides his sister, he is survived by his mother, Viola Winters, and five brothers, Lester, Lorenze, Clifton, Lawrence and Timmy, all of Buffalo.

A wake at 10 a.m. Saturday will precede a memorial service at 11 in True Bethel Baptist Church, 907 E. Ferry St.