Longtime public servant James Keane dies at age 70

Dec 20, 2016

He will be remembered for his long history of public service in Erie County. Former Deputy County Executive and South Buffalo Common Councilmember James Keane has died at the age of 70.

With roots in Irish Catholic South Buffalo, Keane began his career as a member of the Buffalo Fire Department. He entered politics and was elected to the Buffalo Common Council in 1977. There he represented the South District for 10 years.

"Jim was a valued and trusted colleague and friend and the consummate public servant," said Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. "Jim loved serving the public and being a Democratic Party leader. I looked to him for wisdom when I was first elected Mayor in 2006. Buffalo has lost a great man who deeply loved his family, his city and its people."

Keane served on Brown's transition team when first elected Mayor.

From city government to Keane moved to Erie County - as its Commissioner of Emergency Services - after an unsuccessful run for County Executive against Dennis Gorski. Gorski later promoted him to Deputy County Executive, directing county operations for five years.

Keane also was the first regional manager in Hillary Clinton's Buffalo office after she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000. A continuous fighter, he nearly beat Jack Kemp for a Congressional seat in 1986 and unsuccessfully tried another run for County Executive against Chris Collins in 2007.

Keane was one of many family members to serve Erie County. He was the brother of the late Assemblymember Richard Keane and retired Buffalo Fire Commissioner Cornelius Keane. His wife, Margaret, was the first woman Buffalo firefighter and later became a deputy fire commissioner. His children also work in public service.

Friends may call Wednesday 6-9 p.m. and Thursday 3-8 p.m. at the James W. Cannan Funeral Home, 3155 Orchard Park Rd. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday at St. Teresa Church, 1974 Seneca St., at 11 a.m.