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Feb. 15, 1924 – Dec. 2, 2012

Oscar Smukler, a longtime lawyer and former major educational leader in Buffalo, died Sunday in his Buffalo home after a short illness. He was 88.

Besides conducting a vigorous legal practice. Mr. Smukler taught in local colleges for 38 years, was a founding vice president of the Erie Community College city campus and served as acting president of ECC. He was a member of the Buffalo Board of Education from 1977 to 1992, serving as its president for two years.

A native of Buffalo. Mr. Smukler was a graduate of Lafayette High School and recently was inducted into the school’s Wall of Fame. He earned a degree in civil engineering from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind.

In 1946, after serving in the U.S. Navy, Mr. Smukler used the G.I. Bill to attend the University of Buffalo Law School, where he earned his law degree.

After opening his law practice, Mr. Smukler was asked to teach a course at Erie Community College. For the next 38 years he taught at ECC, the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College while still practicing law full time. When ECC opened its city campus, he took a leave from law to assume administrative duties, first as vice president of the city campus and then as interim acting president of the college.

His passion for education led him to serve as a member of the Buffalo School Board representing North Buffalo, including two years as the board’s president.

With a long-held interest in college athletics, Mr. Smukler officiated at high school, college and international basketball games for 30 years, including games in Eastern Europe, Italy and Israel.

For the past 20 years, he maintained a storefront law office on Hertel Avenue, where he usually could be found from 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. seven days a week up until he became ill in recent months.

He served as a volunteer for the Israeli Defense Force during the first Gulf War. As a supporting member of Congregation Beth Abraham, Mr. Smukler worked to revive that small synagogue’s place in Buffalo’s Jewish community. He also was a founder of Fantasy Island amusement park and was a real estate investor in Buffalo.

He was a member of the New York Bar Association and was a Mason.

Survivors include his wife of 62 years, the former Phyllis Goldstein; four daughters, Toby Hollander, Diane Busch, Lisa Zeimer and Jacqueline Matheny; and a sister, Mary Resnick.

Services will be held at noon today in the Mesnekoff Funeral Home, 8630 Transit Road, East Amherst.