Nicholas Willett Obituary

Nicholas  Henry Willett
Nicholas Henry Willett

March 28, 1923 - August 9, 2017
Born in Buffalo, NY
Resided in East Amherst, NY
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August 9, 2017 age 94, beloved husband of Margaret (nee Cooke) Willett; dear father of Michael J. Willett; Patricia (Joel) Daniels, Thomas M. Willett, Nicholas H. Willett, Jr., Christopher C. (Kathleen Smith) Willett and the late Maureen (John) Markarian, Molly Willett and Faith M. Willett; loving grandfather of twelve grandchildren and five great grandchildren; brother of John (Mildred) Willett and the late Edward, Walter and Richard Willett,. Also survived by many nieces and nephews. The family will be present to receive friends Sunday 3-7 PM at the (Amherst Chapel) AMIGONE FUNERAL HOME INC. 5200 Sheridan Dr. (cor Hopkins) Williamsville. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated from St. Gregory the Great Church Monday morning at 10:30 AM. Family and friends invited. Flowers gratefully declined. If desired, memorials may be made in Nicholas' memory to Buffalo Niagara Honor Flight, PO. Box 426, Clarence, NY 14031. Please share your condolences at

For years, Nicholas H. Willett shied away from discussing his service in World War II.

Why spend his life talking about the worst time of it, he figured, according to his son Michael.

He was much more interested in studying the history of western New York as a real estate lawyer for over 50 years and loving his family, a clan of eight children and 17 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Mr. Willett died of natural causes Wednesday, Aug. 9 in Elderwood at Williamsville. He was 94.

"He was a Buffalo guy, through and through," Michael Willett said.

Nicholas H. Willett

Mr. Willett was born in Buffalo on March 28, 1923, one of five sons. He graduated from Canisius High School, where he played defense on the hockey team, in 1940, and three years later was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Second World War. He served for more than two years in the Army Air Forces, participating in 53 bombing missions as a radio operator and gunner on a B-25 bomber in the Burma theater.

His life was spared when he was switched from his usual crew, without explanation, before an airstrip attack.

"In the briefing before leaving, the British had said they removed [the enemy's] 40 mm radar-controlled guns," Mr. Willett told The Buffalo News in a 2011 profile. "But when the lead plane was flying just about 150 feet above the runway, those guns locked on the plane, and it came off the bombing run in flames.

"The pilot in that plane radioed our pilot and said he wasn't going to make it and so he would crash into the gun. The whole crew was killed. I felt bad for them, but I was certainly grateful I wasn't on the plane."

A sergeant, he earned an Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars, an Air Medal and an Aerial Gunnery Badge.

After the war, Mr. Willett attended the University of Notre Dame and graduated cum laude in 1948 with a degree in political science. That same year he married Margaret Cooke, whom he was devoted to until his death. The couple had eight children.

In 1950, picking up where he had left off before he was drafted, he earned a law degree from Georgetown University. He practiced law in Erie County for over 50 years, retiring at 80. He specialized in examining real estate titles, which allowed him to dabble in his passion for western New York's history.

In the later years of his legal career, Mr. Willett practiced in partnership with his son Christopher, with Margaret working as their legal assistant. He was a devout Catholic, became an extraordinary minister of the Catholic Church and donated hours to the church and Catholic schools.

In his 14 years of retirement, he painted, took photos and golfed. He was a voracious reader, loved crossword puzzles and Notre Dame football and always put his family first.

He was predeceased by three daughters, Maureen, Molly and Faith.

He is survived by his wife, his sons Michael, Thomas, Nicholas Jr. and Christopher, and his daughter Patricia.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held Monday, Aug. 14 at St. Gregory the Great in Amherst.





Amherst Chapel
5200 Sheridan Drive
Amherst, NY US 14221
Sunday, August 13, 2017
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St. Gregory the Great Church
200 St. Gregory Court
Williamsville, NY US 14221-2634
Monday, August 14, 2017
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Mt. Olivet Cemetery
4000 Elmwood Ave.
Kenmore, NY US 14217
Monday, August 14, 2017


Buffalo Niagara Honor Flight
PO. Box 426
Clarence, NY Erie 14031