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Ronald W. Wessel, 77, executive at Hart Hotels who became charter boat captain

May 23, 1942 — July 17, 2019

As vice president and director of engineering for Hart Hotels, Ronald W. Wessel spent a lot of time in his office.

But when the company was building a hotel, such as the Hotel Indigo on Maple Road in Amherst, Mr. Wessel relished being on the site, looking over blueprints and supervising construction, said his daughter, Tracy Gray.

"My father was really an outdoorsman," she said. "He liked the office setting, but he didn't like to sit all day."

Late in his career with Hart Hotels, Mr. Wessel turned his love for the outdoors into a job, working as a charter boat captain on Lake Erie.

Mr. Wessel died July 17, 2019, in Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center after an illness of two months. The Orchard Park resident was 77.

He was born on May 23, 1942, the son of Walter and Lorlite Wessel of Orchard Park and the older brother of Lenore.

After graduating from Orchard Park High School, Mr. Wessel earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Detroit in 1966. His college years were the only period that he lived outside Orchard Park, his daughter said.

Mr. Wessel and Joyce Arena met at a social gathering in East Aurora and married on May 20, 1967, in St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church in Cheektowaga.

Mr. Wessel worked for Hart Hotels for most of his career, supervising Hampton Inns, Holiday Inns and the Indigo Hotel, among others, she said.

"My dad made sure buildings were built properly, on time and within budget," said Tracy Gray. "And anyone who worked with him would agree with that."

In 1978, when his children were young, Mr. Wessel earned a master's degree in business from Canisius College, where he belonged to Beta Gamma Sigma, a business honor society.

Mr. Wessel served in the Air Force Reserve for about seven years, and he was honorably discharged in 1987 with the rank of captain.

For many years, Mr. Wessel owned and operated R & R Charters, working as a charter boat captain out of the Small Boat Harbor to Lake Erie and Sturgeon Point. Customers on his boat fished for bass, carp, muskie, perch, salmon, trout and walleye. He was a member of the Eastern Lake Erie Charter Boat Association and the National Association of Charterboat Operators.

"He loved to boat and fish," his daughter said, and he also enjoyed hunting and playing golf. He was a member of Brierwood Country Club and the East Aurora Fish and Game Club.

Mr. Wessel was known for his sense of humor, Tracy Gray said. "He had a great life, and his sense of humor remained up until the end. He was a really funny man."

Mr. Wessel "was very passionate about his children's and grandchildren's functions," his daughter said. "Every sporting event, every concert, he was there." He also volunteered to coach hockey and basketball when his children were younger, she said.

"He was a family man; we were very blessed," she said.

He retired from Hart Hotels in September 2010.

Besides his daughter Tracy Gray, Mr. Wessel is survived by his wife of 52 years, Joyce Wessel; another daughter, the Hon. Lynn Keane; a son, Ron Wessel; a sister, Lenore Ford; eight grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Friday in Nativity of Our Lord Church, 26 Thorn Ave., Orchard Park.

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