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Sept. 4, 1921 – April 17, 2014

Edwin L. Kij, former chief of the Lackawanna Fire Department, died last Thursday in his Orchard Park home. He was 92.

Mr. Kij enlisted in the U.S. Navy on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor was attacked, and served in the Pacific Theater as a flight engineer, according to his daughter Debra Johnson.

“He enlisted because the U.S. was under attack,” she said.

After his term with the Navy, Mr. Kij attended Canisius College and the University of Buffalo before graduating from St. Bonaventure University with a degree in biology.

Mr. Kij worked for a time at Bethlehem Steel as a railroad switch operator before he joined the Lackawanna Fire Department, where he worked his way through the ranks to become chief.

“He was the first fire chief in Lackawanna awarded appointment through civil service examination,” said his son, Jim.

Mr. Kij, who lived for most of his life in Lackawanna, was a 20-year member of the Fire Department before his retirement in 1984. He started the Chief Edwin Kij Award for Outstanding Service, which will continue to be given to a current Fire Department member.

His first wife, Virginia Brzozowski Kij, died in 1980, and his second wife, Rose Mancuso Kij, died in 2007.

He served in 1964 as commander of Matthew Glab Post 1477, American Legion. He was a member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the Grand Island Knights of Columbus.

He also served as librarian at the Grand Island Golden Age Center, according to his daughter.

In addition to his son and daughter Debra, Mr. Kij is survived by another daughter, Mary Beth; two sisters, Helen Ginal and Doris Pantera; and six grandchildren.

A private interment will take place today in Hillcrest Cemetery, Hamburg.