Weekly Feature

2014-07-10 / Obituaries

Vincent J. Graber Sr., former state assemblyman

Graber Graber Vincent J. Graber Sr., 83, of West Seneca, died Wednesday, July 2, 2014.

A former state assemblyman, Mr. Graber got his start in local politics during the 1960s. He was elected to the West Seneca Town Council in 1969, winning re-election in 1973.

Elected to the Assembly in 1974, he served 10 terms, representing parts of Buffalo, West Seneca, Lancaster, Marilla, Elma and Clarence, as well as a portion of Wyoming County.

As chairman of the Assembly’s Transportation Committee, he was a strong advocate for vehicular safety, highlighted by the state’s enactment of the nation’s first infant car seat law in 1982 and initiation of the seatbelt requirement in 1984.

Mr. Graber also steered various pieces of legislation dealing with drinking and driving. His voice led the nation in an approach to DWI penalties and improved traffic safety.

While in the Assembly, Mr. Graber was a primary sponsor of the Buy American Steel Law. The law provided that New York give preference to American-made steel in state construction projects as a way to preserve American jobs.

He also helped champion state investment in Roswell Park Cancer Institute and secured funding for numerous local highway, road and bridge projects, as well as the transformation of the Lancaster Opera House.

Mr. Graber also presided over the Assembly as speaker pro tempore from 1987 until his retirement in 1994.

Prior to his work in government, Mr. Graber served in the U.S. Army. He was a troop train commander as part of the 8th Traffic Regulating Group in central Germany.

Mr. Graber is survived by his wife, M. Patricia; seven sons, Vincent, Bobby, Daniel and Peter Graber and Kevin, Chris and Bill Thompson; two daughters, Judy Siwy and Lynn Carrow; 15 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his first wife, Grace, and one son, James.

A memorial service will take place later this month.

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