on July 17, 2014 - 9:47 PM
March 11, 1936 – July 16, 2014
John Arthur Schnabel, of Williamsville, a retired airline pilot, died Wednesday in Erie County Medical Center of injuries suffered July 5 when his light plane crashed as he was taking off from Royalton Airport in Gasport. He was 78.
Born in Buffalo, he was a 1954 graduate of Lafayette High School and graduated with honors in 1958 from Buffalo State College with a degree in industrial arts.
After college, he attended officer candidate school and flight school, and served for five years as a Marine Corps helicopter pilot.
He flew for eight more years as a Marine Corps reservist before transferring to the Army National Guard in Niagara Falls, where he served for 22 years.
He retired from the military in 1993.
In 1966, he became a pilot for American Airlines and flew for 30 years. He was promoted to captain in 1979. After retiring in 1996, he flew his own light aircraft.
A longtime member of the West Side Rowing Club, he rowed on the four-man crew from Buffalo that won a silver medal at the 1955 Pan American Games in Mexico City.
He was awarded the Michael Broderick Plate as the year’s top oarsman in 1958.
He was inducted onto the Lafayette High School Wall of Fame in 2006.
Survivors include his wife of 57 years, the former Karole Piper; four sons, John, Jeffrey, James and Jack; a daughter, Kay Marie Kassel; and 14 grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday in St. Pius X Catholic Church, 1700 North French Road, Getzville.