Nov. 16, 1943 – March 6, 2020
Robert I. Gannon, a longtime Buffalo attorney who chaired the commission that revised the City Charter in the early 1980s, died March 6 in his North Buffalo home after a lengthy illness. He was 76.
Born in Buffalo, the fourth of nine children, he attended Holy Family School and was a 1961 graduate of Bishop Timon High School.
He was goalie on the Timon hockey team, which won its league championship during his senior year. After suffering several injuries, he was one of the first high school goalies to wear a protective mask, which was made for him by a chemistry teacher at the school.
Initially intending to become a priest, he studied at Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure University, but changed his plans and enrolled at Canisius College.
Working at factory jobs while he attended Canisius, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1966, then served for two years as a counselor at the Niagara Frontier Vocational Rehabilitation Center.
He returned to factory work while studying at the University at Buffalo Law School and he earned a Juris Doctor degree in 1974.
Two weeks before he learned that he had passed the New York State bar exam, he lost his right hand in a machine accident while working at what was then the American Brass plant. Using a prosthesis, he was able to regain the ability to write right-handed.
Mr. Gannon began his legal career in private practice, then in 1977 was named the principal attorney for the Eighth Judicial District Grievance Committee, a position he held until 1990, when he became a founding partner of the Gannon Law Office.
In 2010, he became of counsel to the firm, which now is operated by his son, Joseph T. Gannon, who joined the practice in 1996.
He was appointed by Mayor James Griffin to serve on the first City Charter Revision Commission. After its proposals were rejected by voters in 1979, Griffin created a second commission and named Mr. Gannon to serve as chairman. The second commission’s proposals, which included reducing the size of the Common Council, were approved in 1981.
“That was his talent,” his son, Joseph, said, “getting people to come together.”
He was a member of the Erie County Bar Association, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Knights of Columbus.
He also was a youth basketball coach and for 43 years assisted many people from all walks of life as a sponsor with Alcoholics Anonymous.
Survivors include his wife of 51 years, the former Eileen Maher, who served as his legal assistant and office manager; two other sons, Robert F. and Matthew P.; a daughter, Rebecca K. Felicetta; three brothers, Joseph T., Thomas and David; two sisters, Jean Dustin and Irene Enright; and 12 grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. Mark Catholic Church, 401 Woodward Ave.