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Longtime executive director of Buffalo Naval Park dies

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Posted at 4:22 PM, Mar 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-24 16:22:39-04

The Buffalo Naval Park has announced its longtime executive director has died.

Colonel Patrick J. Cunningham spent the past 23 years as director, following 30 years in active military service with the U.S. Army. A Kenmore native, Cunningham returned to Buffalo in 1989, and took over the Naval Park in 1993. The Naval Park Board Chair said Cunningham used his own money to keep the park afloat at first.

“Colonel Cunningham will be remembered in Buffalo for his tireless efforts at building the Buffalo Naval Park into the wonderful education and historic attraction it is today,” said Naval Park Board Chairman Donald A. Alessi.  “His vision turned our Naval Park  – which is today the largest inland Naval Park in the U.S. — into the crown jewel we have on our waterfront today.”

Cunningham, whose health had been in decline, would have been 79 on April 1. His memory will be honored at the opening ceremony of the park's 2017 season Saturday.

The board announced Captain Brian W. Roche will serve as the park's next executive director. Colonel Cunningham had personally recommended him for the job.