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James Ewing Sr., 46-year GM worker Feb. 15, 1934 -- March 28, 2006

A memorial service for James Ewing Sr., of Buffalo, will be at 1 p.m. Saturday in George F. Lamm Post, American Legion, 962 Wehrle Drive, Amherst.

Mr. Ewing died unexpectedly Tuesday in Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He was 72.

He retired in 2000 after 46 years with General Motors' Powertrain Plant in the Town of Tonawanda. Known as "Big Jim," he could lift 70-pound engine heads with one hand. He was also known for hosting barbecues just outside the assembly line.

Mr. Ewing was active in the United Auto Workers. He headed the recreation committee of Local 774 and, as chairman of the veterans committee, hosted events for veterans in VA Medical Center.

Last August, he worked with the company's Re-entry Support Team to help veterans coming home from Iraq. He helped build the Veterans Memorial Wall at the GM plant. In 2000, he was presented the UAW's Veterans Award.

Over the years Mr. Ewing mentored many youths, helping them get summer jobs in the community and at GM. He was instrumental in building basketball courts on plant property and in getting the union to sponsor a basketball team for younger GM workers.

Born in Marks, Miss., he moved here as a child and grew up in Willert Park. He was an honor student at Burgard Vocational High School and served in Korea with the Air Force.

His wife, Claudia Silas Ewing, died in 1997.

Survivors include a daughter, Claudine Ewing-Harper of Cheektowaga; a son, James Jr. of Buffalo; and three grandchildren.

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