Donald DUNN Obituary (2022) – Buffalo, NY

Dunn – Donald G.
Of Menands, NY, 90, peacefully entered into eternal life on January 12, 2022, at his home in Menands. He was born in Niagara Falls, NY on October 29, 1931, and was the son of the late Roy and Loretta (Driscoll) Dunn. On August 21, 1984, he married his Cecile M. Dunn in Dallas, TX, a loving and devoted union for over 37 years. Donald grew up in Lockport, NY, attended St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic School, before moving on to Lockport High School. At Lockport High, he served as center for the Lockport basketball team before graduating. He earned honors with the NFL All Stars and was named basketball’s Most Outstanding Player in the 1948-49 and 1949-50 seasons. He would later be inducted into the Lockport Athletic Hall of Fame, Class of 1949. While all of his basketball journeys were thrilling, one of his most memorable was the “once in a lifetime” trip that Don performed during the 9th grade summer break. . He was invited to go camping at the North Pole with five of his classmates, a gym trainer and his business partner. They were flown to Canada, camped along the Hudson River and several lakes en route to the North Pole. It was definitely a life lesson in finding food to eat and how to cook it, carrying a canoe and shooting the rapids, and learning how to get around rattlesnakes and bears. Donald received a basketball scholarship to play forward for the Golden Griffin basketball team at Canisius College in Buffalo while earning his BS in business. He enjoyed playing basketball at Memorial Auditorium, Boston Garden, Niagara College, Syracuse University, and colleges in Manhattan and Siena, to name a few. The Griffin team was considered as good as any basketball team in the country at that time. Donald married Suzanne Cochrane in Buffalo, NY in 1954 and began his professional retail career at JC Penny’s, while raising three children. He moved to San Jose, California in 1963 to pursue his retail career with RH Macy’s in San Francisco, after Macy’s purchased three department stores in the San Francisco and Oakland Bay area. Macy’s was new to the San Francisco area at the time, which gave Donald, as manager of the housewares department, the opportunity to establish Macy’s Cellar for the San Francisco store. When Donald and his family moved back to Buffalo, NY, in 1967, he pursued and earned his master’s degree in business administration from the University at Buffalo. Once he completed his MBA, University at Buffalo president Ketter hired him as an executive assistant in the president’s office. Don became the tax officer for the Graduate School of Social Work and also served as a liaison to the President, who worked with the student body to stop the riots on the University campus in the late 1960s. Donald began his career in Erie County government when he was hired by Erie County Executive Edward V. Regan to be his Executive Assistant for Management in the Office of the County Executive. County in 1972. He became Erie County Budget Director, while serving in a dual role as Erie County Finance. Director. He then became the Deputy County Executive under County Executive Ed Rutkowski. Among the many projects that Don was responsible for were the county’s Total Value Assessment system, a new county-wide IT system, and managing the construction process for the 80,000-seat football stadium that is later became known as Rich Stadium after the negotiated sale of naming rights. In 1983, Donald became the first Assistant State Comptroller under NYS Comptroller Edward V. Regan. In his capacity as Chief of Staff to the Comptroller, Don was responsible for auditing the office of all departments, agencies, authorities and municipalities in the state. He led the installation of a new computer system to computerize all NYS employee retirement system records and instituted a new state payroll system. He was also instrumental in drafting NYS internal control legislation and legislation eliminating the state’s annual “spring borrowing.” In the fall of 1994, Governor-elect Pataki appointed Donald chief of staff of the committee that prepared the newly elected governor’s budget. This budget eliminated a $5 billion deficit and resulted in a year-end surplus. He was appointed First Assistant Secretary to Governor Pataki in 1995 and was responsible for all administrative matters within the Executive Chamber, including staffing, budgetary matters, working with state agencies, groups at non-profit and commercial groups. Don was appointed president of the Local Government Assistance Corporation (LGAC), implemented a scanning system that responded to 100,000 pieces of correspondence per month, while eliminating a backlog of 13,000 unopened pieces of mail. He initiated restoration projects in the State Capitol, which sparked a major effort to restore the Capitol building. He also oversaw and managed the move of the Governor’s office from the World Trade Center to a downtown location. In 1997, Donald was named Executive Vice Chancellor of SUNY. In a consolidation of duties, he was also given the titles of Senior Vice-Chancellor for Finance and Management and Vice-Chancellor for Capital Facilities. His office oversaw 64 campuses. SUNY was and still is the nation’s largest higher education system. Don was instrumental in securing $30 million for the Clean Fab computer chip research facility which was being expanded at the time. Donald became chairman of the SUNY Building Fund in 1999 and was responsible for planning, design, and construction activities on the 34 state-operated campuses of State University. He retired for the second time from state service in 2002. Donald and Cecile have traveled extensively with family and friends over the years and have relaxed spending quiet time at their homes in New York, Vermont and from Texas. Don was an avid reader, a competitive tennis player, loved swimming and was always perfecting his golf game. He had many dogs throughout his life, but none quite like his beloved Marlor. Don also enjoyed his memberships in many organizations, but none more than local memberships in the Fort Orange Club, the University Club, and the Historic Albany Foundation. Don is survived by his wife, Cécile (Balestrieri); daughter, Deborah (Faustino) Rodriguez; grandchildren, Rebecca, Nathan, Megan and Hannah; great-grandchildren, Xavier and Cole; and his sister, Linda Christensen. He also leaves to mourn several nieces and nephews and their children. He was predeceased by his sons, David and Brian Dunn; his first wife, Suzanne; his parents, Roy and Loretta Dunn; his sisters, Patricia Williamson and Judy Wiemann; and his brother, Robert Dunn. In lieu of flowers, please make donations in Donald’s name to the Mohawk/Hudson Humane Society, 30 Oakland Ave., Menands, NY 12204; Tunnel to Towers Foundation, T2T.Org or a charity of your choice. To leave a special message for the family online, visit

Published by Buffalo News on January 18, 2022.

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