Frederick E. Munschauer Jr., retired chairman and chief executive officer of the former Niagara Machine and Tool Works, died Sunday in his Amherst home after a brief illness. He was 86.
Born in Buffalo, he graduated from Nardin Academy and Lafayette High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at Cornell University.
During World War II, he served in the Navy as an aviation radar and electronics technician and instructor.
After the war, he returned to Buffalo to begin a lifelong career with Niagara Machine and Tool Works, a company founded by his grandfather in 1879. Starting as a student engineer, he advanced through shop training programs to become president and general manager in 1955; he was named chairman and chief executive officer in 1977 and held those posts until his retirement in 1992.
He held several patents in machine design and was a pioneer in advanced computer-controlled manufacturing.
During Mr. Munschauer's more than 50 years at Niagara Machine, the Northland Avenue company grew to employ more than 900 people and attained a national reputation. The company manufactured large metal-forming machines for automotive and appliance manufacturers worldwide.
As a philanthropist, he established the F.E. Munschauer Family Foundation in 1992 to support education, medical and psychological research.
He was a parishioner at St. Benedict Catholic Church for more than 55 years.
Mr. Munschauer was a talented pianist and had a lifelong passion for music. In his youth he played piano in a Big Band era group and throughout his life continued to play for friends and family. He also swam several miles each week and was a serious amateur photographer.
He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the National Machine Tool Builders Association, the Saturn Club, the Cornell Tower Club, and a lifetime member of the Buffalo Canoe Club.
His wife of 44 years, the former Harriet Swenson, died in 1990. He is survived by a daughter, Carol A.; a son, Dr. Frederick E. III; and a dear friend, Bonnie Gordon Flickinger.
A memorial Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Thursday in St. Benedict Church, Main Street at Eggert Road, Eggertsville.