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Michael C. Fitch, financial adviser, supporter of arts

July 27, 1947 – April 12, 2015

After graduating from Cornell University, Michael C. Fitch couldn’t wait to work for financial giant Merrill Lynch. So he landed a job there as soon as he turned 25, the minimum entry-level age for financial advisers.

Over the next four decades, he established the Fitch Group, using his charisma and people skills to become a top adviser, with clients here and across the country, before he retired as a first vice president about three years ago.

Mr. Fitch affectionately referred to his employer as “Mother Merrill.”

“He had great charisma,” his son, Scott, said. “He made friends easily, helped put people at ease and understood their perspective.”

Mr. Fitch, who lived in Buffalo, died April 12 in Buffalo General Medical Center after a brief illness. He was 67.

A Niagara County native, he graduated from Wilson High School in 1965 and earned his bachelor’s degree in engineering from Cornell in 1969. Outside of work, Mr. Fitch enjoyed and supported the local arts community, especially as a longtime board member at Artpark. He also served on the boards of Shea’s Performing Arts Center and the Rivermist Association, and he was a strong supporter of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Mr. Fitch really enjoyed life, his family said. He loved sailing, especially on his 35-foot “Arbitrage” boat; reading historical nonfiction; skiing; living on Buffalo’s waterfront; and fine dining, especially when lobster was on the menu. He also was a classy dresser, known for his dapper, custom-made suits. And he loved flowers, although he actually preferred sitting in a chair and smoking a cigar, watching while others did the gardening.

He was a member of the Cornell Club of Greater Buffalo, the Youngstown Yacht Club, Niagara Falls Country Club and the Buffalo Club.

Surviving are a son, Scott; a daughter, Kristen; two sisters, Wendy Fitch and Sandy Meister; a brother, Russell; a grandson; his companion, Susan Nolan; and his former wife, Sue Zolnier.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday in the Amigone Funeral Home, 1132 Delaware Ave. near West Ferry Street.

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