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Ralph A. Witnauer, 87, custom home builder

June 10, 1931 – March 23, 2019

Ralph A. Witnauer, a retired custom home contractor, died March 23 in his East Amherst home. He was 87.

Born on his family’s farm on Paradise Road in Amherst, one of six children, he attended St. Mary’s School in Swormville and Bishop Neumann High School.

Wanting to take part in a stronger athletic program, he transferred in his junior year to Amherst High School to play football, walking home three miles every day after practice. He graduated in 1949 and served for six years in the Naval Reserve.

Mr. Witnauer began his career working construction by day and working nights at the Chevrolet plant. After managing his own roughing crew, in 1958 he started a custom home building company with Dick Andres. Beginning as Witnauer and Andres, the company became Ralph Witnauer Construction in 1976 and Selective Home Design Group in 1989, building nearly 100 homes locally, along with numerous other projects.

He retired in 2002, but continued to work part time with various contractors as a remodeler.

He was a former president of the Niagara Frontier Builders Association.

A devout Catholic, he rarely missed a Mass. He was a fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus, volunteered for Catholic Charities and ran the fish booth for 15 years at the annual St. Mary’s Church picnic.

He and his wife, the former Joan A. Kieffer, whom he married in 1953, traveled extensively in the Americas and Europe. She died in 2002.

Surviving are three daughters, Marlene, Becky Teal and Amy Steele; two sons, Mark and Gary; a sister, Audrey Leising; 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Thursday, March 28, in St. Mary’s Church, 6919 Transit Road, Swormville.

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