LOCKPORT – Paul R. Mahler, of Cambria, a mechanic and longtime member of the Air Force Reserve who served in both Iraq wars, died Monday in Niagara Hospice after a battle with cancer. He was 62.
Born in Buffalo, he was a graduate of Kenmore West High School and earned an associate’s degree in occupational studies from Alfred State College.
He served for 30 years in the Air Force Reserve as a load engineer and later as a flight engineer on C-130 transport planes with the 328th Tactical Airlift Squadron at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. He flew missions around the world and took part in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired in 2004 with the rank of senior master sergeant.
He developed a love of cars and auto racing in high school, raced at Humberstone Speedway in Port Colborne, Ont., and became a mechanic. He worked for a car dealership and the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.
In the 1980s, he began working for the New York State Power Authority, where he was an engineer on a tugboat that installed the ice boom and later was captain of an icebreaker that kept power station water intakes in the Niagara River free of ice in the winter. After he retired in 2012, he worked part-time as a tractor mechanic with Niagara Implement.
Devout in his religious faith, he attended the Catholic Biblical Studies Program in the Town of Tonawanda, led by Barbara Shanahan, and continued with studies led by Kalista Lehrer.
Survivors include his wife of 27 years, the former Susan K. Quetschenbach; four daughters, Dr. Helen Nazareth, Dr. Jean Bachar, Rebecca Blough and Jen Whitmore; two brothers, James and Robert; two sisters, Linda Murphy and Lisa; his former wife, Carol Peterson Mahler; and four grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, 168 Chestnut St.