David C. Brunner, who built his own homes and founded a prominent Buffalo-area millwork and cabinetry company that performed work on many area banks and local landmarks, died Saturday in Buffalo General Hospital after a brief illness. He was 79.
A Buffalo native, Mr. Brunner grew up in Snyder and graduated from Amherst Central High School in 1947. He earned a bachelor's degree in engineering from the University of Buffalo in 1951.
He served in the Air Force as a sergeant during the Korean War.
Shortly after leaving the service, Mr. Brunner started and owned D.C. Brunner Co. in Cheektowaga, which became one of the area's largest millwork companies. His company did finishing work for most of the area's banks, the former AM&A's department stores, then-Rich Stadium and Buffalo City Court.
In 1976, Mr. Brunner took over WW Dobkin Co., a ceramic tile distributor now known as Dobkin Tile, which is known through much of New York State. In 1990, he founded Brunner Enterprises, a distributor of aluminum extrusions and moldings, which expanded to serve companies across the United States.
Described as a self-taught man, Mr. Brunner retired from his company last year.
Mr. Brunner also enjoyed photography, skiing and piloting planes. About 20 years ago, he rebuilt his own plane.
"He was always tinkering or building things, whether at work or at home," said his son Thomas of Amherst. "He was a workaholic."
As personal computers came into their own, he set out to build and upgrade his own and used them to improve his company's efficiency.
Mr. Brunner also designed and built his own homes -- in West Seneca and Colden. At age 70, he designed and built a full-sized covered bridge on his Colden property that has since been included in a national book on covered bridges.
A 55-year member of the Lockport Lodge, Free & Accepted Masons, he also was a longtime member and past key man of the Quiet Birdmen, a pilot's group. He also was a member of the Erie County Sheriff's Aviation Reserve unit.
In addition to his son Thomas, survivors include his wife of 42 years, the former Joanne Zydel; two other sons, Daniel and Paul; a brother, John; and a sister, Ellen Robison.
There will be no services.