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JAN. 27, 1957 -- OCT. 29, 2004

Richard B. Cortright, 47, a South Park High School special-education teacher and one of Cleveland Hill High School's most accomplished athletes, died unexpectedly Oct. 29 at his Cheektowaga home.

Mr. Cortright was born in Buffalo and was a lifelong area resident.

In 1970, he won the five-mile New York State Junior Track Cycling Championship, held at Lancaster Speedway, with a borrowed bike and helmet.

"That was his first and last bike race," said his father, Dick Cortright, an Olympian in cycling in 1952, 1956 and 1960.

The younger Mr. Cortright was an outstanding athlete during his years at Cleveland Hill. His school track records for a sophomore in the 800-meter and 1,600-meter races, set in 1973, still stand.

His senior year, Mr. Cortright earned 11 varsity letters, was named the school's most valuable player in cross-country, track and wrestling, and its outstanding athlete of the year.

In 1998, he was inducted into Cleveland Hill's Athletic Hall of Fame.

He had a bachelor's degree from Canisius College and a master's degree in special education from Buffalo State College.

He taught special education for Erie 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services, Hamburg public schools and at Our Lady of Victory Elementary School. For the past 17 years, Mr. Cortright taught in Buffalo Public Schools, most recently at South Park High School.

He was a member of the Buffalo Teachers Federation and the Elks Club of Lancaster.

Mr. Cortright remained active in several sports, including swimming, four-wall handball and racquetball, until a serious back injury and operation curtailed his activities.

He continued to ride his bike, work around the house and help friends and neighbors even after the operation. Only his family and closest friends knew he was in constant pain.

Mr. Cortright once revealed that he wished people would stop asking, "How are you doing today?" because it only reminded him of the pain. But he would always answer, "All the better for your asking."

In addition to his father, survivors include his wife, the former Jackie Fuhr; a daughter, Renae; a son, Jimmy; his mother, Rose, of Cheektowaga; and two sisters, Cindy Rose Drust of Cheektowaga and Cathy Lynn Scott of Alden.

A memorial service was held in Cheektowaga.


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