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Richard W. Michaels, retired insurance executive; March 17, 1918 -- Oct. 27, 2011

Richard W. Michaels, a retired insurance company executive, died Thursday in a Williamsville nursing home. He was 93.

Mr. Michaels, who lived in Williamsville and Pawleys Island, S.C., was born in Buffalo. He graduated from Lafayette High School and attended Millard Fillmore College of the University at Buffalo.

He served in the Army during World War II.

Mr. Michaels started his insurance career at age 17 as an elevator operator with Merchants Mutual. He established the R.W. Michaels Agency after the war, which eventually merged with another insurance company to create Michaels and Reed Inc.

Mr. Michaels also established several other health, property and casualty agencies in the region, and served as principal owner of the Jacob Hauck Agency.

In the 1970s, he went to Battle Creek, Mich., where he served as vice president for the Federal Life & Casualty Co., which is now G.E. Life.

In 1980, when back in Buffalo, he sold the Jacob Hauck and Michaels and Reed agencies. With his son, he then formed the Foreguard Agencies Inc. and Costguard Agency. He retired in 1999.

Mr. Michaels also was a director on the board at Merchants Mutual from 1982 to 1998, also serving as chairman. He also served as president and chairman of the company in 1995.

He served on several committees for the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York, and was a former member of the diocese's Evangelism Commission, Hospital Medical Insurance Commission and Insurance Committee.

He was a trustee of the Buffalo Rotary Foundation and Willard J. Houghton Foundation of Houghton College. He also was a benefactor of the Trinity School of Ministry.

Mr. Michaels was co-chairman of the Buffalo Billy Graham Crusade in 1988. He was a founder and chairman of the Buffalo Ecumenical and Interracial Prayer Group from 1989 to 2000.

He enjoyed golf and won many tournaments, including those organized by the Buffalo Club and the Crag Burn Golf Club, where he was a founding member. At the time of his death, he was a member of the Country Club of Buffalo.

Survivors include his wife, Gail; a son, Thomas; a daughter, Elaine; and a sister, Patricia Fitzgerald.

Services will be held at 2 p.m. Monday in St. Mark's Episcopal Church, 6595 East Quaker St., Orchard Park.

[H/DAVIS]