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Michael G. McGuire, fostered sports and recreation as Amherst councilman, dies at 88

June 28, 1929 – July 7, 2017

Sports and recreation were lifelong passions for Michael G. McGuire, first as a young player, then as a volunteer and public official who fostered recreational opportunities for people of all ages.

“Mike was one of the strongest advocates Amherst has ever seen for sports and recreation,” says former Amherst Supervisor Susan J. Grelick. “He was responsible for the creation of so many facilities.”

Among the projects Mr. McGuire spearheaded during his 16 years on the Amherst Town Board were the new Audubon Golf Course clubhouse, the creation of a pool and sports fields at the Clearfield complex, upgrading the North Amherst Recreation Center and the completion of the Northtown Center. He also pushed for expansion of parks and trailways.

He died Friday in Brompton Heights Assisted Living Facility in Amherst. He was 88.

Born in Sewickley, Pa., he came to Buffalo with his family as a child and was a 1948 graduate of Fosdick-Masten High School, where he was a member of the varsity basketball, baseball and football teams. Standing 6-foot-4 and playing forward, he attended Canisius College on a basketball scholarship and earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 1952.

Mr. McGuire first was a pharmaceutical sales representative for Pfizer, then from 1955 to 1977 for Bristol Laboratories, later Bristol-Meyers Squibb. He was affiliated with Edward Weck Medical Instruments from 1977 to 1991 and with Conmed (Linvatec) Medical from 1991 to 1994, when he retired. He won numerous awards and contests for sales, including several trips to Europe and the Bahamas.

Appointed to the Amherst Recreation Commission, he served for eight years before he first won a seat on the Town Board in 1989. He was elected three times as a Democrat and for his final term as a Republican. He was the board’s liaison to the Recreation Commission during his entire tenure.

He served briefly as deputy supervisor in 1996 under Supervisor Lynn Millane and for four years as deputy under Grelick.

“He brought a lot of stability to the board,” Grelick said. “He tried to bring people together to reach reasonable conclusions.”

He took that approach to one of the town’s stickiest issues – deer control.

An advocate of the controversial bait-and-shoot strategy, “he understood the importance of creating a plan and bringing forward the scientific evidence,” Grelick said, “so that if it was done, it would be done properly.”

Mr. McGuire coached basketball for more than 35 years at Christ the King Elementary School, where the school gym was named in his honor. He also coached baseball for more than 30 years in the Amherst Central Little League and the Eggertsville-Snyder Baseball League.

He was a member of the County of Erie Baseball Association and was a 1974 inductee into the Western New York Softball Hall of Fame. He was inducted onto the Amherst Avenue of Athletes and was honored by the Erie County Legislature as Citizen of the Month in May 2013.

A parishioner of Christ the King Catholic Church for more than 60 years, he was a youth basketball coach, an usher and a member of the Holy Name Society and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

He was a founding member of the Amherst Gaelic League and the North Forest Civic Association.

His wife of 47 years, the former Doreen E. Navel, died in 1998. His only daughter, Kelly Africano, died of cancer on July 3.

Survivors include four sons, Michael “Duke,” the color commentator for Buffalo Bisons radio broadcasts, and Kevin, Timothy and Terry; a sister, Mary Fisher; and 10 grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Christ the King Church, 30 Lamarck Drive at Main Street, Snyder.

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