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Kenneth J. McIlraith, business, church leader Jan. 22, 1927 -- Nov. 30, 2005

A memorial service for Kenneth J. McIlraith, a former Buffalo-area business and church leader, was held Sunday in All Saints Episcopal Church, Hilton Head Island, S.C.

He died Nov. 30 in his home on Hilton Head Island after a long illness. He was 78.

Born in Buffalo, he was a graduate of Bennett High School and the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania. He served in the Navy during World War II.

Mr. McIlraith was one of the first employees of the fledgling Moog Valve Co. in East Aurora in 1953 and oversaw its early growth as administrative vice president and treasurer.

He left Moog in 1961 to become executive vice president and a director of the Small Business Investment Co. of New York. In 1963, he joined Liberty National Bank & Trust Co. as a senior vice president and became an executive vice president one year later.

He resigned from Liberty in 1966 to run for the House of Representatives, winning the Republican endorsement, but losing in the primary to former Rep. John R. Pillion, who was making a bid to return to Congress.

Mr. McIlraith then was elected president of Scott Aviation, remaining in that post until 1969, after the company was sold.

A resident of East Aurora and Orchard Park, he moved to Wenham, Mass., in 1969 to become executive vice president of the Essex County Bank in Lynn, Mass. He later became chief executive officer and chairman of the Conifer Banking Group in the Boston area, and served as interim president of Salem State and Emerson colleges in Massachusetts.

He moved to South Carolina in 1993.

At 30, he was the youngest man to serve as president of the Official Board of Asbury-Delaware Methodist Church and was certified as a lay preacher, substituting for ministers at more than 20 Western New York churches annually.

He was a member of the Iroquois Central School Board, a director of the Buffalo Chamber of Commerce and a vice president of the former Buffalo Junior Chamber of Commerce, which gave him its Gold Key Award in 1957. That year he also was chosen by the State Junior Chamber as one of the state's five outstanding men.

Surviving are his wife of 50 years, the former Dorothy Tousey; a son, Glenn of Lavonia, Mich.; two daughters, Janet Winters of Georgetown, Mass., and Anne of Salem, Mass.; a sister, Dorothy Russell of the Town of Tonawanda; and four grandchildren.


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