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James J. Makowski, Buffalo streets commissioner; March 29, 1935 -- May 9, 2012

James J. Makowski, who served as Buffalo streets commissioner under Mayor James Griffin, died unexpectedly Wednesday in Kenmore Mercy Hospital. He was 77.

Mr. Makowski was Buffalo's deputy streets commissioner from 1985 to 1989 and streets commissioner from 1989 to 1991. He began working for the city in 1957 in the former Signal Division of the Police Department and later became superintendent of signs and pavement markings in the Department of Public Works.

A Cheektowaga Democratic committeeman, he served on the town Traffic Safety Board since 1969 and was its chairman. He also was a member of the Erie County Traffic Safety Board and the Cheektowaga Police Advisory Board.

He was elected to the Cheektowaga Central School Board in 1993 and served until 2000.

He twice ran for Cheektowaga Town Board, finishing fourth in a race for three seats in 1977, and losing in the Democratic primary in 1999.

He received several honors in the field of car, motorcycle and bicycle safety. He was president of the Buffalo-Niagara Frontier Traffic Safety Council from 1978 to 1992, and a member of the Governor's Traffic Safety Board from 1980 to 1988.

He also taught defensive driving for Erie Community College Police Services. He was a member of the scientific staff of the Erie County Sheriff's Office and a member of the International Order of Police Officers.

Born in Buffalo, he attended St. John Kanty School and Kensington High School.

He was a member of Mason-Cushman Lodge 879, Free & Accepted Masons; the Ismailia Shrine; and the Professional Businessmen's Association.

Surviving are his wife of 21 years, the former Patricia Ricapito; and a brother, Robert S.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday in St. John Kanty Catholic Church, 101 Swinburne St.