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June 5, 1943 - Aug. 29, 2012
Edwin A. Kowal of Amherst, a retired engineer who was active in outdoor sports, died Aug. 29 after being injured in a bicycling accident in Queenston, Ont. He was 69.
An experienced cyclist, Mr. Kowal was among a small group riding down a hill on the Niagara River Parkway on Aug. 28 when he lost control of his bicycle and crashed, suffering severe head injuries despite wearing a helmet, authorities had reported. He was airlifted to Hamilton General Hospital, where he died.
Born in Niagara Falls, Mr. Kowal was a graduate of Trott Vocational High School, then earned a master's degree in science and mechanical engineering from Bradley University in Illinois.
From 1968 to 1972, he served as a captain in the Air Force, stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He was a reservist at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station from 1972 to 1978.
Mr. Kowal was involved in the engineering of the SR-71 Blackbird, which broke the air speed record by traveling 2,193.167 miles per hour on a flight in July 1976.
He was an ergonomic engineer for American Axle from 1994 to 2006. Before that, he worked as an engineer at Occidental Chemical Corp. in Niagara Falls and Lifetime Technologies on Grand Island.
An outdoors enthusiast, Mr. Kowal had been a certified ski and snowboard instructor.
He also enjoyed sailing; kayaking with the Zoar Valley Paddling Club and the University at Buffalo; and hiking.
Mr. Kowal was a member of Adirondack Mountain Club's Niagara Frontier Chapter and of the University at Buffalo's Tango Club and Tango at CanalSide.
Survivors include a son, Bryan; two daughters, Lisa Herman and Denise Ligammare; and two brothers, Louis Kowalski and Jerome.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:15 a.m. today in St. Leo the Great Catholic Church, 885 Sweet Home Road, Amherst.