May 13, 1929 – Feb. 21, 2018
Bennett L. Leader was a man on the go after he was drafted into the Army in the mid-1950s.
Stationed in Washington, D.C., assigned as a clerk-typist in the U.S. Naval Gun Factory, now called the Washington Navy Yard, he and his wife lived in an apartment in the southeast section of the city.
Their first son was born in Walter Reed Army Hospital. When he wasn’t on duty, he attended Georgetown University Law School, where he was an editor of the Law Review.
After he received his juris doctor degree in 1957, graduating sixth in his class, “they wanted him to stay in Washington and work for the State Department,” said his brother, Harold.
“He was offered a very good job in Washington,” his wife recalled, “but we decided to move home.”
He begin a private practice in Buffalo and maintained it for more than 55 years.
He died Wednesday in Hospice Buffalo, Cheektowaga. He was 88.
Born in Buffalo, the oldest of three children, he was an outstanding student at School 21 and was a recipient of the Jesse Ketchum Medal.
“He was smart,” his brother said. “He loved to study. He loved to read.”
He was a 1947 graduate of Bennett High School and was inducted into the Bennett Alumni Honor Roll. In high school, he worked as a shoe salesman at L.L. Berger and A.S. Beck.
He attended Michigan State University for two years, where he was a member of the wrestling team, then transferred to the University of Buffalo, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1951. He continued at UB for a master’s degree in business administration, majoring in industrial relations.
Admitted to the bar in 1957, he first was a partner with Robert Liebman in the firm Liebman and Leader in downtown Buffalo. Later he was partners in Leader, Maislin & Brown with Sam Maislin and Michelle Brown. He moved his practice to Williamsville in the 1990s. Honored by the Erie County Bar Association in his 50th year of practice, he retired in 2014.
He specialized in family law, adoption and estate planning and was a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
“He was truly a gentle, kind man,” his son Bruce said. “He would reach out to help people who couldn’t afford help and he was kind of a therapist.”
A supporter of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and a devotee of the arts, he enjoyed working on his computer and was an unpublished fiction writer.
An avid Buffalo Sabres fan, he held season tickets for many years.
He met his wife, Fay Broder, in high school and they were married in 1952. After their marriage ended in divorce in the 1980s, he married the former Doris Ablove. She died in 2013.
Survivors also include two daughters, Nancy Mastroianni and Laurie; two other sons, Daniel and Douglas; a sister, Thelma Glaser; 12 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
Services will be held at 9:30 a.m. Friday, Feb. 23 in Amherst Memorial Chapel, 281 Dodge Road, Getzville.