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Harold P. Roberts, architectural engineer

Updated: 10/21/08 6:36 AM


Oct. 29, 1925 — Oct. 15, 2008

Harold Pfohl Roberts, of Buffalo, an architectural engineer who helped build several of the city’s landmark structures, died Wednesday. He was 82.

As a senior partner in the architectural firm of Pfohl, Roberts and Biggie, he was the structural engineer for the former Federal Office Building on Elmwood Avenue, the City Court Building on Niagara Square, the Memorial Auditorium expansion and numerous schools in the area.

Later a partner in the firm of Roberts, Shackleton, Boy, he continued consulting work until the day before his death.

He also was a member of the Scajaquada Pathway Committee and helped oversee the construction of a biking and jogging path from Delaware Park to the Riverwalk along the Niagara River. During the past summer, he joined in the campaign to save the historic White Bros. Livery & Boarding Stable on Jersey Street, adjacent to the cottage where he and his wife lived.

Born in Buffalo, he played varsity baseball and football at Bennett High School. He also rowed on the school’s crew and helped win the National Crew Championships in Philadelphia in 1944.

He served in the Navy during World War II in Shanghai, then returned to study at Canisius College, where he also played football. He earned his degree in architectural engineer from Detroit University.

He raised his family on Grand Island, where he was a member of the Town Planning Board and the Knights of Columbus and was a charter member of the Rotary Club, which named him its Man of the Year in 1969. He also was a longtime member of St. Stephen Catholic Church.

With 60 years of affiliation, Mr. Roberts was the member in longest standing at the Buffalo Athletic Club and could be found working out there daily from noon to 2 p. m.

He also held down the bass section in the Blessed Sacrament Choir for more than 20 years and maintained a workshop in his home, where he fashioned wooden items inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright.

He was the brother of retired Chief City Judge H. Buswell Roberts.

In addition to his brother, survivors include his wife of 55 years, the former Florence “Bunny” McNeil; three sons, Harold A., Mark and Gregory; three daughters, Mari McNeil, Louise Bonner and Linda Singh; and two sisters, Mary Jo Gardner and Carol Marie Foote.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 7 p. m. Thursday in Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 1035 Delaware Ave.