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William R. Casseday, 91, regional construction engineer for the State Department of Transportation

Dec, 21, 1926 – March 27, 2018

Bill Casseday helped pave the way for all of the Buffalo area’s major highways during his 50-year career with the State Department of Transportation.

Beginning in 1948 as a surveyor’s helper with what was then the state Department of Public Works Bureau of Highways, he surveyed the route for the Kensington Expressway and helped lay out the Thruway, the Scajaquada Expressway and the Youngmann Highway.

Later, as regional construction engineer, he oversaw the building of the Route 219 Expressway and the Southern Tier Expressway.

He died March 27 in his home in New Freedom, Pa. He was 91.

Born in Cleveland, William R. Casseday came to Buffalo when he was 14. He attended Lancaster High School and Buffalo Technical High School, where he graduated in 1946 after interrupting his studies to serve in the Merchant Marine during World War II.

He took night classes at the University of Buffalo and earned a diploma in civil engineering from the International Correspondence School in Scranton, Pa.

In his youth, he delivered newspapers, worked on a farm, caddied at Lancaster Country Club and worked at the Curtiss-Wright aircraft factory.

His first job after high school was in the parts and collision departments at H. S. Nielsen Oldsmobile at Bailey Avenue and Genesee Street.

He joined the DOT in November 1948 and was the department’s liaison to the State Thruway Authority during construction of the superhighway. He became regional construction engineer for Western New York in 1973, supervising a staff of about 200 and overseeing contracts for bridge and highway projects in four counties.

Among his many innovations was the lump-sum bridge contract, which streamlined the contract process. In 1974, he was named this region’s first DOT Engineer of the Year.

He also represented the DOT on the Erie Community College advisory board for about 10 years and taught a night course on highway engineering and design on the ECC North Campus in Amherst.

In 1997, he received the John K. Mladinov Award for outstanding service – the department’s highest honor – becoming the first employee outside DOT headquarters in Albany to receive it. Upon his retirement in 1999, he was recognized for his work by the New York State Association of General Contractors.

A longtime Cheektowaga resident, he was active for 50 years in Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church, where he was a trustee and a lector. For his service to the parish, he received the Lay Award of St. Joseph the Worker in 1997.

After moving to Grand Island in 1998, he became a parishioner at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church. Since 2003, he lived in New Freedom, near York, where he was a member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church and was active in the Knights of Columbus.

In retirement, he enjoyed volunteer work, Bible study, genealogy research and golf.

He was an usher at the Commodore Theater on Genesee Street when he met his first wife, Arline Kaufman. They were married in 1947 and lived at first above her family’s tavern at Genesee Street and Union Road in Cheektowaga. She died in 1986.

He met his second wife, Claudia Allen, on an Alaskan cruise. They were married in 1995, had a winter home in Hudson, Fla., and traveled extensively around the world.

Survivors also include two daughters, Linda Brozek and Cindy Guido; two step-daughters, Elizabeth Levy and Hilary Holmes; a sister, Patricia Birnie Jacobs; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

A celebration of his life will be held at 9:30 a.m. May 5 in the chapel of Our Lady Help of Christians Church, 4125 Union Road, Cheektowaga.

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