July 2, 1926 – May 13, 2017
Louis J. Lambert always was surrounded by music.
His parents were singers and performers in the dramatic circle at the former St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church in Buffalo.
He lent his voice to the Amherst Male Glee Club for more than 50 years.
He was lead and baritone vocalist with the South Suburbanaires, a barbershop quartet within the Friends of Harmony.
With his wife of 66 years, the former Leonore Schmitt, a music teacher, he sang in church choirs and, from 1981 to 2000, in a weekly concert in Aurora Park Nursing Home. In recent years, he sang baritone with the Senior Notes, a group she led, which performed in the East Aurora Senior Center.
Their 10 children all sing and perform in church, on stage and on the radio. When they were little, he sang them to sleep with his favorite novelty songs. Whenever the family gets together, they sing.
And when Buffalo News Reporter Lou Michel interviewed him in 2016 about his service aboard a Navy minesweeper during World War II, he said he would rather talk about singing.
Mr. Lambert died May 13 in Elderwood at Lancaster after a brief illness. He was 90.
Born in Buffalo, the fifth of 12 children, he helped the family through the Depression by delivering newspapers for the Buffalo Times, working as a handyman for his neighbors and delivering telegrams by bicycle for the Postal Telegraph Co.
After graduating from Buffalo Technical High School in 1942, he tested airplane shock absorbers at the Houdaille Industries factory on Northland Avenue, then assembled airplanes at the Curtiss-Wright plant on Military Road.
Drafted into the Navy, he was sent to basic engineering school and advanced diesel engineering school, then was assigned to the USS Climax, a minesweeper in the Pacific, where he was a machinist’s mate in the engine room. When the war ended, the ship cleared mines from Japanese harbors at Kobe and Nagoya.
Returning from service, Mr. Lambert earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial arts education from Buffalo State College, later completing a master’s degree at Buffalo State and doing graduate work at Oswego State College. His first teaching position was at Columbia High School in East Greenbush, near Albany. In 1955, he became an industrial arts teacher at the newly opened Amherst Junior High School. His students included local radio personalities Larry Norton and Tom Donahue. He also served as attendance supervisor and audio visual supervisor.
He was the Amherst Central School District’s industrial arts curriculum coordinator and supervised more than 40 student teachers in several schools. He retired in 1981.
He was awarded a General Electric Co. Fellowship to Union College in Schenectady in 1958 and an Industrial Arts Fellowship to the University of Maryland in 1966. He was honored as Western New York Industrial Arts Teacher of the Year for 1968-69.
He was a member of the American Teachers Federation, the New York State United Teachers and the New York State Industrial Arts Teachers Association.
Mr. Lambert also was active in St. Mary Magdalene Church, was president of the choir at the former St. Boniface Church and, after moving to East Aurora in 1970, was a dedicated parishioner at Immaculate Conception Church.
At Immaculate Conception, he served as chairman of the Catholic Charities drive for more than 25 years, was president of the Holy Name Society, served as a lector and was a member of the Parish Council. He also helped develop and carry out plans for the dedication of the new church building in 1978. For his service, he was given the St. Joseph the Worker Award by the Diocese of Buffalo.
He also was co-founder and past president of the East Aurora chapter of the AARP and a member of the Catholic War Veterans, American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Knights of Columbus. He served as a Boy Scout merit badge counselor for the electricity and radio badges.
He owned several rental properties in Buffalo and donated the house he grew up in on Northampton Street to Habitat for Humanity 100 years after his grandfather built it.
In addition to his wife, survivors include four sons, Peter, George, Leo and Douglas; six daughters, Louise, Jeanne, Annette Lane, Caroline Fulkerson, Marlena and Julie Ann; a brother, James; four sisters, Patricia Gray, Lucille Gonser, Claudia Platt and Madeline Nance; 22 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.