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May 6, 1942 – April 28, 2014

Robert Gawlak, a longtime resident of Blasdell, died Monday in Buffalo General Medical Center after a short illness due to complications with diabetes. He was 71.

Born in Lackawanna, Mr. Gawlak attended Frontier High School but entered the Navy before graduation. He served in the Navy as an aircraft engine mechanic at Naval Air Station Patuxent River located in Maryland, a center for test and systems acquisition relating to naval aviation.

He also served as an aviation machinist’s mate with the Airborne Early Warning Training Unit.

Mr. Gawlak started to work at Bethlehem Steel in 1963.

After the closing of the plant, he started his own business in 1977 and became owner and operator for Bob’s Auto Service at 4167 W. Highland Parkway in Blasdell, serving the community for 35 years. He retired in 2013.

A 50-year member of the Big Tree Volunteer Fire Company, he served as chief, president and trustee for the company.

His wife of 45 years, Margaret “Peggy” Lillis Gawlak, died in 2009.

Survivors include a son, Robert; two daughters, Karen Smolar and Mary Stanek; two brothers, Dennis and Ronald; a sister, Cindy Podkulski; and seven grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Friday in Our Mother of Good Counsel Catholic Church, 3688 South Park Ave., Blasdell.