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Shelter house in Cazenovia Park renamed 'Robert J. Williams Shelter House'


BUFFALO -- On Wednesday, July 11th, South District Councilmember Christopher P. Scanlon and the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy hosted a sign unveiling to mark the renaming of the recently renovated shelter house in Cazenovia Park after the late Robert "Bob" Williams.

Following in his father Cy's footsteps, Bob played three seasons of professional baseball before a career ending injury forced him home to Buffalo. After briefly working for the City of Buffalo's Department of Parks and Recreation, he joined the Buffalo Police Department. Shortly after becoming a police officer, Williams began his 28 year tenure as the Director of Buffalo PAL. For nearly three decades, he coached and mentored thousands of youth. The shelter house served as his second home where he could be found nearly every spring, summer and autumn day.

Scanlon, who had a personal relationship with Williams, spearheaded the renaming efforts.

"I was lucky enough to have Bob Williams as my supervisor during my time in the Mayor's Summer Youth Program," said South District Councilman Christopher Scanlon. "For three summers, Mr. Williams served as my boss and mentor, just as he did to countless others during his 28 years with the Police Athletic League.  He was firm but fair, encouraged children and teens with his humor and patience and instilled life lessons in all of us through his passion for the sport of baseball, which he loved so dearly. It is only fitting to honor him by renaming the shelter house after him, the place where he spent years guiding an entire generation."

"It is fitting that we honor the legacy and accomplishments of late Buffalo Police Officer and former longtime director of the Buffalo Police Athletic League, Bob Williams, by renaming the Shelter House Building in Cazenovia Park the 'Robert J. Williams Shelter House,'" said Mayor Byron W. Brown. "Officer Williams served and protected his community, and we will forever be grateful. I thank Councilmember Scanlon for leading the effort to name this building in Bob's honor."

The $557,980 in renovations to the shelter house building were funded by the Buffalo and Erie County Greenway Standing Committee through the New York Power Authority and include: a new roof, new interior floor, new windows, a new door, the building was painted and the entry and restrooms are now handicapped accessible.

"The Cazenovia community has been enhanced through the generosity of NYPA Greenway funding, the talented restoration efforts of our Olmsted staff and professional contractors, and the legacy spirit of service by dedicated citizens such as Bob Williams," said Stephanie Crockatt, Executive Director of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy. "Just as Bob did, this shelter serves the entire park community and we are humbled by its dedication to such a respected man, who like this structure, was a gift to us all."

Although unable to attend the ceremony, Congressman Brian Higgins and Senator Timothy Kennedy, both of South Buffalo, expressed gratitude for Bob's commitment to the community.

Congressman Brian Higgins said, "Under the watchful guidance of his parents, Cy and "Babe" Williams, Bob learned the greatest of American values – love of family, country, the game of baseball and service to others.  As a Buffalo Police Officer, Bob was the personification of those values as he protected the community, provided leadership and support to young people under his care at PAL and promoted fair play on and off the field.  His legacy will live on as the restored Shelter House will now bear his name and Robert J. Williams will forever keep watch over the baseball diamond named for his Dad and the tree planted in his mother's memory along the walkway."

"Bob Williams was not only the heart of South Buffalo, he was a mentor, neighbor, and dear friend," said Senator Tim Kennedy. "In recognition of the thousands of youth Bob coached, and the countless lives he impacted, it is fitting that this shelter will be named in his memory. Kudos to Councilman Chris Scanlon for leading the renaming efforts, and giving Bob the lasting acknowledgement he deserves."

Bob Williams passed away June 27, 2012, leaving a large void in the baseball community at Cazenovia Park and throughout all of Buffalo. Renaming the shelter house after him will ensure that his legacy lives on for generations to come.

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