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Raymond P. McGirr, Navy and Fire Department veteran

Nov. 19, 1931 ‑ Sept. 1, 2017

Raymond P. McGirr, a retired Buffalo firefighter and Navy veteran of the Korean War, died Sept. 1 at HighPointe Rehabilitation Center in Buffalo after a long illness. He was 85.

An Old First Ward native, Mr. McGirr was graduated from South Park High School and attended Canisius College. Drafted into the Navy during the Korean War, he served 3 1/2 years and served aboard the USS Norris.

Even at that early age, he displayed a droll sense of humor. When asked by family members how he was assigned to the Navy, he replied: “I could swim.”

Following the war, he returned to Buffalo and began a long career as a Custom Carpets salesman that coincided with his 20 years in the Fire Department beginning in 1959. He spent most of his firefighting career in the Arson Investigation Unit.

Mr. McGirr was especially proud of his membership in the Blackthorn Club that began in 1959 and made him one of the organization’s senior members. In an interview for a publication celebrating the club’s 100th anniversary later this month, he recalled first marching in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade as a 5-year-old in 1936 with his father. And as a teenager, he worked the meetings when the Blackthorns met at his family’s tavern – McGirr’s at 6 South Park Ave.

“My job was to bring out the food, and that was about 1946 or ‘47,” he reminisced. “Corned beef and cabbage. Of course.”

Mr. McGirr was a long time volunteer at the Camp Good Times and Special Days camp for children with cancer. He was also a member of the Msgr. Nash Council 3875 of the Knights of Columbus, American Legion Post 721, and the Knights of Equity.

In 1956, he married Sharon Lawrence, who survives. He is also survived by a brother, James; and a sister, Mary Franchini.

A Memorial Mass will celebrated 10 a.m. Saturday in St. John Vianney Catholic Church, 2950 Southwestern Blvd, Orchard Park.

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