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Feb. 2, 1942 – Jan. 14, 2013

Robert A. Coles, a local real estate broker and retired WKBW-TV employee, died Jan. 14 in Waterfront Health Care Center. He was 70.

Born in Buffalo, he in served the Air Force in the 1960s and was stationed in Albuquerque, N.M. After his military service, Mr. Coles obtained his real estate license and joined his mother in the local real estate business.

In 1967, according to his family, Mr. Coles became the first African-American hired at WKBW-TV Channel 7. He worked in various aspects of television production, including studio lighting, studio camera operation, floor managing, integrating production into engineering and transferring film to videotape.

Mr. Coles worked on shows including “Dialing for Dollars,” “AM Buffalo,” “Rocketship 7” and “Building a Decent Future,” the latter a public affairs show hosted by the late local civil rights leader William L. Gaiter. Mr. Coles also participated in the production of 37 consecutive Variety Club Telethons that were aired on Channel 7.

In 1969, Mr. Coles was elected by his co-workers to serve as a union steward for the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians – Communication Workers of America Local 25.

During his 35-year career as a local real estate broker, Mr. Coles operated his own firm, RobCol’s Real Estate.

He was a member of Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church.

He is survived by his wife, the former Chyrel Jones; and two daughters, Diana R. Lee-Sam and Janice V. Peoples.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Friday in Resurrection Evangelical Lutheran Church, 3 Doat St.