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Joe Crangle, 'historic' Democratic Party leader, dies at 88

Jeremy Zellner
(l to r) Former Erie County Democratic Party Chairs Len Lenihan and Joe Crangle with current Party Chair Jeremy Zellner.

Longtime Democratic party leader Joseph F. Crangle died early Tuesday morning at his Williamsville home. He was 88.

"Erie County Democrats mark and mourn the passing of our party's greatest chair, Joseph F. Crangle," said former Democratic Party Chair Len Lenihan. "He was a historic figure who truly made history."

Crangle was a Buffalo native and an attorney who served as Erie County Democratic Chairman from 1965-1988, the longest such term. He was also New York State party chairman from 1971-1974 and was nearly elected as national party chairman in 1968.

He enjoyed relationships with prominent national Democratic politicians, such as Lyndon Johnson, Robert and Ted Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and was a member of the Democratic National Committee for two decades. Crangle was also a senior aide to three state Assembly speakers.

"My condolences to the loved ones of Joseph F. Crangle. He was a towering figure in the Democratic Party who had an enormous influence on local, state and national politic," tweeted Assemblymember Monica Wallace. "The party is lucky to have had Crangle as chairman and he will be deeply missed."

Crangle served as chairman of the Erie County Water Authority from 1987-1996 and was counsel for the Seneca Nation of Indians for many years. He was later known as an election analyst on WIVB-TV.

He graduated from Bishop Timon High School, Canisius College and the University at Buffalo Law School in the 1950s. Crangle was also a U.S. Army veteran.

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

WBFO's Marian Hetherly contributed to this story.

Mark Wozniak, WBFO's local All Things Considered host, has been at WBFO since mid-1978.