July 17, 1933 – June 2, 2017
Robert A. Cecchini, of the Town of Tonawanda, the first patient in Western New York to undergo a newly-developed heart surgery procedure in 2012, died Friday in the hospice unit of Buffalo General Medical Center. His family said the cause was chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. He was 83.
Born in Washington, D.C., he was adopted by Anthony and Lena Cecchini and grew up in Buffalo.
A 1951 graduate of Fosdick-Masten High School, he served in the Army stateside during the Korean War.
Mr. Cecchini began working in 1956 for the New York Central Railroad, later Conrail.
He retired from the company’s Freight Claims Division in 1995.
Mr. Cecchini, who suffered from chronic cardiac and pulmonary problems, was told by his cardiologist in 2012 that his condition had become life-threatening. He soon was approved as a candidate for transcatheter aortic valve replacement, a minimally invasive operation devised for patients unable to undergo open heart surgery.
The procedure was performed by Dr. Vijay Iyer, medical director of cardiology for Kaleida Health.
A parishioner at St. Amelia’s Catholic Church for more than 50 years, he assisted in accounting with bingo receipts and the weekly collection. He also was a member of the Prayer Group.
A bowler in his youth, he played on teams in men’s and mixed doubles leagues.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, the former Mary Ann Deinzer; a son, Michael; a daughter, Mary Beth; and two grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial was offered at 9 a.m. Wednesday in St. Amelia’s Catholic Church, 2999 Eggert Road, Town of Tonawanda.