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John G. Cansdale, 54, former executive director of state Racing and Wagering Board

Dec. 8, 1963 — Oct. 8, 2018

Attorney John G. Cansdale held some high-profile jobs.

He was director of industry development for Empire State Development, general counsel for the Olympic Regional Development Authority in Lake Placid, and executive director of the state Racing and Wagering Board from 2005 until 2008.

But he will be best remembered for his generous, loving nature and dedication to family and friends, said his brother William Cansdale Jr.

"When fortune shined on John, he made sure it shined on everybody," said William Cansdale. "He was generous with his time, and if something good happened to John it happened to everybody."

The Williamsville resident died Oct. 8, 2018, in Fort Lauderdale,  Florida where he was vacationing, of complications from unexpected surgery. He was 54.

He was born in Buffalo, the fifth child of Kathleen (Over) Cansdale and William Cansdale Sr. and brother of William Jr., James, Suzanne, Timothy and Mark. William Cansdale Sr. worked as a photoengraver at the former Courier-Express. His mother married a second time, to Dr. Ronald E. Batt.

The Cansdale family lived in Lancaster, where Mr. Cansdale graduated from St. Mary's Elementary School and Lancaster High School. He earned a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo, then a law degree from the University at Buffalo School of Law. He was admitted to the bar in New York State in 1989.

He began work as counsel for several local businesses, including Bella Vista Group and the Advantage Companies. From 2005 to 2010, he lived in Saratoga while working for the state. When he returned to Western New York, his brother said, he had a private practice at his office on Main Street in Williamsville and did some real estate investing. He also owned a business in Orlando.

He served as president of the Depew-Lancaster Boys and Girls Club board of directors and helped raise more than $40,000 to replace the gym floor after it was  destroyed by a flood in 1999.

Mr. Cansdale enjoyed traveling, taking many trips through the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America and Europe, and had a journey to Alaska planned at the time of his death. There were parts of the world he hadn't yet visited, but "I just don't think he got around to it," William Cansdale said.

He was devoted to his black Labrador retriever, Abby. "Abby was a great companion for him," said William Cansdale.

Post Time: An ode to Johnny

Mr. Cansdale was an avid reader, especially of history, his brother said. In fact, one of his talents was being able to recommend the perfect book. "He could give you the title of a book that you would enjoy thoroughly," his brother said. "He was spot-on."

"I called him the matchmaker," said William Cansdale. "If you had a personal problem or a business problem, he'd match you up with the solution instantly. No, 'Let me think about it and get back to you.' He'd say, without any hesitation, 'You need to call so-and-so,' or 'Read this book,' or 'See this movie.' He was a great source of information on literally any subject."

Mr. Cansdale is survived by his mother, Kathleen Batt; siblings William Jr., James, Suzanne Gill, Timothy and Mark; stepbrothers Douglas, Thomas, Neil and John Batt; stepsisters Paula Batt Wilson and Jennifer Michalski; 16 nieces and nephews and eight great-nieces and -nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Monday in St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church.

Memorial donations may be made to Literacy New York Buffalo-Niagara, 1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, 14203, or the SPCA Serving Erie County, 300 Harlem Road, West Seneca, 14224.


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