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Fred R. Whaley Jr., president of Forest Lawn, singer

Aug. 5, 1939 – Aug. 17, 2014

Fred Remington Whaley Jr., who helped guide the development of Forest Lawn into an attraction for visitors during his 24 years as president of the landmark cemetery, died Aug. 17 in Belfast, Maine. He was 75.

Mr. Whaley began his career with Forest Lawn in 1968 as a sales representative. Named president in 1980, he encouraged tours, special events and sightseeing on the grounds, where at one time an admittance card was needed to enter the gates.

His tenure included the start of historic tours of the grounds in 1996, a sesquicentennial sculpture exhibit in 1999, the installation of the Oishei Bell from Bishop Timon’s 19th century carillon in St. Joseph’s Cathedral, the construction of the Rosewood Atrium and the installation of the Frank Lloyd Wright Blue Sky Mausoleum.

He also oversaw Forest Lawn’s mergers with the Lakeside Memorial Park in Hamburg in 1998 and the Williamsville Cemetery in 2001, as well as the 1996 purchase of 75 acres for a new cemetery at Greiner and Strickler roads in Clarence.

He moved to Stockton Springs, Maine, after he retired in 2004.

Born in Buffalo, he was a 1957 graduate of Kenmore High School. A talented cellist and singer, he was a member of several orchestras and singing groups throughout high school and in later life.

While he attended Cornell University, he sang with Cayuga’s Waiters, the college’s oldest all-male a capella singing group. He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University at Buffalo in 1963 and graduated from UB Law School in 1967.

Active in the community, he was past president of the Buffalo Rotary Club, the Buffalo Torch Club, the International Association of Torch Clubs, and the Erie County and New York State Cemetery associations.

He was also a member of the Amherst Symphony, the First Presbyterian Church choir, the Amherst Aces a capella singing group and Master Chorale of Western New York.

He was a member of the Buffalo Club and volunteered and served as a director at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo and the Crippled Children’s Camp.

An avid boater, he was a member of the Buffalo Power Squadron and the Buffalo Yacht Club.

He received the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society’s Owen B. Augspurger Award for service to history in 2005.

He was first married to the former Carolyn Bunting. His second wife, the former Mary Ann Miller Valaitis, a mezzo soprano and soloist, died July 29.

Survivors include two sons, Clark and Todd; a brother, David; a stepdaughter, Rachel Valaitis; and five grandchildren.

A private memorial service will be in Forest Lawn.

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