Aug. 14, 1929 – Jan. 4, 2013
Dwight W. Balnis, a donor of $1 million to Roswell Park Cancer Institute for research on prostate cancer, an original shareholder of Holiday Valley Resort and a civil engineer who worked on several major construction projects, died Friday in his Orchard Park home after a 15-year battle with cancer. He was 83.
A native of Buffalo, Mr. Balnis was a graduate of the five-year civil engineering program at Cornell University.
He was an original shareholder of Holiday Valley Resort, was on the board of directors there for 33 years and treasurer for 25 years. As a licensed civil engineer and expert in topographic maps, he understood that the topography for Holiday Valley could not be duplicated anywhere else in Western New York.
During the Korean War, he served with the 29th Engineering Base Topographic Battalion for 12 months in the Pacific Islands, working in the previously unsurveyed eastern coast of Luzon and then spent four months in Korea.
Mr. Balnis served for 16 years with H. F. Darling Co., working on construction design for the cut and cover section of Buffalo’s light-rail transit system and on several cofferdam projects in Western New York. Before that, he worked 12 years for Siegfried Construction Co. in building construction.
He was a lover of the outdoors, an expert canoeist, a skier and enjoyed New Orleans jazz and swing music. He also was a former member of the University Club of Buffalo and a longtime member of a fish and game club in Quebec.
In 2010, Mr. Balnis made a donation of $1 million to Roswell Park as an annuity to provide lifetime income for his sister, Ellen Chapman, and for a significant gift to support Roswell Park after her death.
Mr. Balnis had been battling prostate cancer for 15 years. By the time he underwent a prostatectomy in 1996, his cancer has spread, so radiation and hormone therapy were necessary. Recently, his PSA level began to climb again, and he was under the care of a physician.
His gift will be called the Dwight W. Balnis Endowed Fund for Prostate Cancer Research.
His sister is his only survivor.
Services will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday in F.E. Brown Sons Funeral Home, 6575 E. Quaker St., Orchard Park.