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Nov. 16, 1935 – April 26, 2014

John F. Dial of Buffalo, a heavy-equipment mechanic who was past president of the British Car Club and commodore of the Swiftwater Sail and Power Squadron, died Saturday in Sisters Hospital after suffering a heart attack in his home. He was 78.

Born in Newcastle, Pa., Mr. Dial moved to Western New York with his parents as a child and graduated from Lafayette High School. He enlisted in the Army, was trained as an engine repairman and served with the Army Corps of Engineers in Germany.

Following his discharge as a sergeant, Mr. Dial joined Syracuse Supply Co., and worked for 33 years as a diesel mechanic. He and his friend Robert Welch often spent the winter rebuilding engines on tugboats and freighters on the Buffalo waterfront.

One of the top bus mechanics in the area – he kept a 1957 GMC bus in his Crescent Avenue driveway for years – he often got called out at night to repair engines for touring blues groups and rock bands.

He bought a new 1957 Jaguar while in the Army, and after restoring it years later, joined the British Car Club in Buffalo and became its president. He later bought a 38-foot Chris Craft, joined the Swiftwater Sail and Power Squadron, and became commodore of the 200-member group. He earlier served as its education officer.

“My dad was a man of many hats,” said his son, John Newsom, of Milwaukee.

This summer’s Crescent Avenue block party will be the first time in 40 years that Mr. Dial will not be at the grill, a burn barrel he cut in two and welded onto a platform.

“It will be like missing a piece of the neighborhood,” said Frank Mesiah, his across-the-street neighbor and longtime president of the NAACP’s Buffalo Branch.

Mr. Dial was a member of Twin City Elks Lodge, Local 17 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, the NAACP, the Swiftwater Sail and Power Squadron, the Niagara Frontier Antique and Classic Boating Society, and the Dorie Miller Rifle and Pistol Club.

Survivors, besides his son, include his wife of 44 years, the former Catherine Potts; three daughters, Dorothy Potts, Judy Lawson and Martha Potts; a sister, Rosa McDaniels; and numerous grandchildren.

Funeral services will be private.