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Joseph Eugene ‘Gene’ Holbel, computer engineer, active in church

March 3, 1939 – July 11, 2015

Joseph Eugene “Gene” Holbel, of Lancaster, a computer engineer who worked at Unisys Corp. for 43 years, died Saturday in Mercy Hospital after a brief illness. He was 76.

Born in Pennsylvania and raised in Buffalo, Mr. Holbel graduated from Bishop Fallon High School. He served in the U.S. Army in Redstone Arsenal in Alabama as a radar instructor.

He married the former Mildred C. Domalski on Sept. 17, 1960. The couple met when she was working as the secretary to Mr. Holbel’s uncle, Monsignor Sylvester Holbel, who was the superintendent of schools in the Buffalo Catholic Diocese.

Following his military service, Mr. Holbel joined the former Univac Corp. and worked on one of the first mainframe computers in Buffalo. When Univac expanded and became Unisys Corp., he continued to service large mainframe computers in Western New York. Among his assignments, he was responsible for the computer systems of Erie County at the Rath Building and Erie County Police Services. He continued working as a computer field engineer for 43 years until his retirement, receiving many company awards for his accomplishments over the years.

After he retired, Mr. Holbel was very active for the past 12 years with Road to Recovery, a program of the American Cancer Society that provides transportation for cancer patients to and from treatment appointments.

Mr. Holbel lived in Cheektowaga for many years and was very involved at St. Barnabas Parish, serving as a Eucharistic minister, lector, money counter, a member of the Holy Name Society, president of the Home School Association and for many years, running the hamburger tent at the parish lawn fete. He continued his volunteer activities more recently at Annunciation Catholic Church in Elma.

In his leisure time, he enjoyed his morning coffee meetings, golf, vacationing in Hawaii and the Caribbean, photography and dinners with friends. He was known as a great storyteller and a handyman who could repair almost anything.

Survivors, in addition to his wife, include two daughters, Lynn O’Connor and Marcia Keller; four brothers, Donald, Kenneth, Tim and Paul; three sisters, Mary Beyer, Rosemary Winter and Patricia McMurray; and two grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Thursday in Annunciation Church, 7580 Clinton St., Elma.

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