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July 1, 1935 – Feb. 13, 2016

James E. LaBelle, of the City of Tonawanda, a retired crane operator, died Saturday in Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center after a long battle with cancer. He was 80.

Born in North Tonawanda, he was a graduate of North Tonawanda High School, where he was a varsity baseball and basketball player, and served in the Navy during the Korean War as a medic on submarines.

Mr. LaBelle worked as a crane operator at Bethlehem Steel Corp. from 1959 to 1965, then was a crane operator for Anaconda American Brass from 1965 to 1976. He then moved to Atlanta, where he became a salesman and sales manager at Ford dealerships, winning many awards. He returned to live in Tonawanda eight years ago.

In the 1950s and 1960s, he was a standout bowler and competed in several leagues.

Survivors include three sons, James M., John and Michael; four daughters, Deborah Scarfo, Diane Braun, Susan Usiak and Kathleen; a brother, Donald Schmichael; eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A private celebration of his life was held.

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