David J. Mahar

By Orleans Hub Posted 6 January 2020 at 1:24 pm

David Mahar

David J. Mahar, 83, of Wilson, passed away on Jan. 2, 2020 surrounded by family, following a brief illness. A devoted husband, father, grandfather and brother, Dave Mahar was born Feb. 20, 1936 in Gasport, the son of the late Emmett and Sylvia (Haseley) Mahar.

Dave is survived by his wife, Joan Mahar; his children, Maureen Mahar, Michael (Trisha) Mahar, John (Maggie) Mahar and Meg (Craig) Thrall; stepchildren, Bob (Lauren) Hartz, Jim Hartz and Mike Hartz; grandchildren, Mitch, Ben, Evan, Jack, Berlyn, Max, Spencer, Eli, Emma, Josh and Landon; siblings, Jim (Pauline) Mahar, Linda McDonough and Larry Mahar; and several in-laws, nieces and nephews.

He was predeceased by his late wife, Mary Ann; his parents; and his brothers, William Mahar and Francis (Maryann) Mahar.

Dave attended DeSales Catholic School and Cornell University, where he was a member of the rifle team and boxing club. At Cornell, he enrolled in the ROTC program and trained to become an officer. He attended the United States Army Airborne School and trained with the 82nd Airborne, one of the proudest times in his life. His love for helicopters led him to the Transportation Corps, where he was an officer who fixed (and flew) H-13 helicopters. Dave could take apart and fix any engine put in front of him. After his discharge, Dave enlisted in the Army Reserve and served as a first lieutenant at Camp Drum (now Fort Drum) for many summers.

“Super Dave” lived a truly amazing life that was defined by hard work, ingenuity, risk taking, and good old fashioned luck. He grew up in Gasport with his family on “Mahar’s Ponderosa,” where they learned how to make something out of nothing. Together, they built the family farm into a successful business. As a youngster, he was very involved in the 4-H organization and participated in county and state fairs – at the age of 19, he won the Tractor Operators Contest at the 1955 New York State Fair.

In 1963, Dave went to work for his future father-in-law, Holman O’Connor, managing a large dairy, vegetable and fruit farming operation in Niagara County. Lakeside Farms in Ransomville ultimately became the largest dairy farm in the county.

In 1967, Dave married Mary Ann O’Connor, mother of his four children. Although he took a lot of razzing for marrying the boss’ daughter, he enjoyed a wonderful, simple life with Mary Ann, and they took pride in their home and their young family. In the years after her passing, Dave worked tirelessly to support their children, and taught them life lessons that helped them develop strong work ethics and a capable approach to life.

Dave eventually started working at another one of Holman’s enterprises, Frontier Stone. He ascended the ranks quickly, developing a passion and knack for quarrying. While at Frontier, Dave had the good fortune of being teamed up with Chuck Loiacano and Bob Pass. Frontier changed hands several times after Holman’s passing, and in 1982 Genstar Corp. announced it would close both the Lockport and Gasport quarries. It was then the three decided to risk it all and purchase Frontier to save 100 jobs at the plant and the jobs of 200 truck drivers who relied on Frontier’s operation. Surrounded by excellent people, Mahar, Loiacano and Pass bought Frontier and went on to run the business successfully.

In 1992, Dave married Joan (Van Arsdale) Hartz and became a dedicated stepfather to her three sons. Dave and Joan travelled, visiting Europe, Florida, and significant World War II sites, and they spent many wonderful years together.

Dave loved to host big family parties. There were chicken barbecues with his brother, Fran, serving as the head cook, tending to a homemade grill and entertaining guests with his embellished stories. In the later years, parties were centered around Father’s Day, with white hots and ribs cooked on a grill by Dave himself. Corn parties were held each August, with everyone celebrating (and shucking) the first batches of local sweet corn.

Even though Dave was an avid hunter back in the day, he eventually had a change of heart and liked feeding leftovers to the wildlife in his back yard, especially the beautiful red foxes. He loved to take pictures of everything and anything and, thankfully, his life is well documented in an endless supply of photo albums. He was especially proud of his Jacobsen mower and lush, green lawn, always tinkering and experimenting with both.

A World War II enthusiast, Dave read countless books on the subject and was especially fond of General George S. Patton. He took up golf midlife and, like in his other endeavors, worked at the game diligently, achieving several triumphs, including Low Amateur at the Frontier Stone Open and MVP of several winning teams in the prestigious “Huey Cup.”

As comfortable in work boots and overalls as in a shirt and tie, Dave could plant corn in the morning and cut a big business deal in the afternoon.

A member of St. Brendan on the Lake parish, Dave was a devoted Catholic who lived a humble life and gave generously to others. He was a mentor to countless people, helping to shape and change lives for the better, paying forward the gift of wisdom that others had given to him. Although his time with them was cut short, Dave loved being with his grandkids and recounting stories of his limitless (sometimes unbelievable) adventures. Dave’s impact on his family and the community will be significant and long-lasting.

Visitation will be Mon., Jan. 6 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Hamilton and Clark Funeral Home in Wilson. Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Tue., Jan. 7 at St. Brendan on the Lake in the Village of Wilson.

Dave benefited greatly from blood platelet donations. Please consider helping others by donating platelets to American Red Cross. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Roswell Park or Niagara Hospice. For more information, visit www.DavidMahar.com.