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David J. Birmingham Jr., master model railroader Oct. 1, 1934 -- Aug. 9, 2009

David Jerome Birmingham Jr., a nationally recognized model railroader, died Aug. 9 in Salamanca of injuries suffered in a car accident. He was 74.

Mr. Birmingham was born in Buffalo and graduated from Canisius High School and the University of Buffalo, with a bachelor's degree in fine arts.

He served in Germany with the Army's 14th Armored Cavalry Division in the early 1950s.

He lived in the Town of Tonawanda and worked as a commercial artist for Sierra Research for 26 years, retiring in the late 1980s.

Mr. Birmingham was the recipient of national and international awards in the field of model railroading and was prominent locally.

He was awarded the title "Master Model Railroad Builder" by the National Model Railroad Association and served for many years as the president of the Buffalo Central Model Railroad Club. During his tenure, he helped construct model train layouts, including the Buffalo model railroad layout for the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society and the layout that appears each holiday season at the downtown M&T Bank.

"My entire basement growing up was full of model trains. It was amazing," said Sharon Mezzio, one of Mr. Birmingham's three daughters. "We took it for granted, and it wasn't until later years that we realized what a master he was."

Mr. Birmingham also authored many articles that were published in model railroad publications.

Survivors, in addition to his daughter Sharon, include his wife, the former Mary Lou Smith; two other daughters, Susan Coffed and Patricia Johnson; and a sister, Maryanne Heining.

A memorial Mass will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in St. Amelia Catholic Church, 2999 Eggert Road, Town of Tonawanda.

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