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Nicholas Konst, 93, congressman's chief of staff ran Richard Nixon's local campaign

Oct. 15, 1925 — Sept. 1, 2019

After Richard M. Nixon visited Buffalo during his successful presidential campaign in 1968, a 60-foot "Nixon's the One" banner appeared across the roof of a Lancaster home, visible to passengers on planes leaving and arriving at the Buffalo airport.

The huge sign marked the home of Nicholas Konst, who had been chief of staff for John R. Pillion of the 39th Congressional District, and headed the local committees to elect Richard M. Nixon in both 1968 and 1972.

After Nixon's visit to War Memorial Auditorium on Oct. 7, 1968, which Mr. Konst co-chaired, he took the "Nixon's the One” banner that adorned the back of the stage, said his son Harry N. Konst. Mr. Konst and his sons secured it to their home's roof in Lancaster, where it remained for about six months.

"People would fly in and out of Buffalo and later call to tell us they saw the banner with Nixon's picture on it," said his son.

Mr. Konst, of Lancaster, a lifelong attorney who worked for the Erie County Water Authority and led the Lancaster and Erie County Republican parties, died Sept. 1, 2019, in the Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He was 93.

Mr. Konst was born in Depew, the first of four children of Harry and Nellie Malkiewicz Konst. He attended high school in Depew and had completed a year and a half of pre-law undergraduate studies at the University of Buffalo when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Nov. 27, 1943.

Mr. Konst was trained as an electronic technician's mate second class in Indiana, Texas and Chicago before being assigned to a Mobile Communications Unit off the Philippines. His family said that he received a Purple Heart after being shot in the leg, and was a chief petty officer on a PT boat that was being prepared for the invasion of Japan when the war ended.

After being honorably discharged on May 26, 1946, Mr. Konst resumed his studies, graduating from the UB School of Law in 1949 and being admitted to the New York State bar.

From January 1953 to January 1965, he was chief of staff for Pillion, who represented the 39th Congressional District. In that role, he coordinated the local committees working for Republican presidential candidates, including Barry Goldwater.

Mr. Konst worked as Lancaster town attorney and a justice in Sloan in the mid-1960s, then, from the 1970s through the late 1980s, was attorney for the Erie County Water Authority.

Mr. Konst also practiced law at the Pillion Law Office in Lackawanna and Konst Law in Depew and in the Main Place Mall. In his practice of international law, he traveled the world to meet with business associates and clients.

In the 1970s, he taught labor law as an adjunct professor at the University of Buffalo.

He met his wife-to-be, Nellie Kardoulias, in the Sunday School of the Greek Orthodox Church. They married there in 1951.

The couple traveled extensively and filled their home with art from across the world. They also entertained frequently, throwing parties for friends and associates from the world of politics.

In the summer of 1969, Mr. Konst and his son Harry were struck by a vehicle while crossing Transit Road at Terrace Boulevard in Depew. They were both injured, starting Mr. Konst on decades of orthopedic repairs, including five hip replacements.

His wife died on Dec. 27, 2015, after 63 years of marriage.

Besides his son Harry, Mr. Konst is survived by another son, George Konstantakis; two daughters, Calliope Konst and Lynn Crosby; a brother, Spiro Konst; four grandchildren and several nieces, nephews and cousins.

A memorial service, planned for late October, will be private.

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