By Michael Regan firstname.lastname@example.org
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — It’s been more than a half century since Gerald Clark purchased Twin City Ambulance in 1955, a company that began as a nascent operation but has grown into a multi-million dollar enterprise and the largest privately-owned ambulance company in Western New York.
Clark, 81, passed away on Sunday after a short illness, though those close to him say his legacy will live on, with many of his family members integrally involved in the company hierarchy, including his wife, son and daughter. Clark retired in 2003.
Bryan Brauner, company CEO, adding that what began as a two-vehicle operation in the Twin Cities has burgeoned into a fleet of 35 with 200 employees; covering cities, towns and villages throughout the region, including Grand Island, Amherst, Clarence, Newstead, Williamsville and Akron, along with much of the Tonawandas.
“We’re the second-largest company on the market,” he said. “And the only locally owned and operated one.”
Aside from his business successes, employees say Clark was much-beloved for his hands-on approach, including more than 30 years actively working out in the field in addition to his administrative responsibilities.
Current and past employees flooded the Twin City Ambulance Facebook page this week with recollections of Clark, who launched the company after working part time as a technician.
He first purchased the ambulances for $18,000, running them largely by himself out of a small rented space at DeGraff Memorial Hospital, before the company saw significant expansion opportunities in the mid-1990s.
Brauner said that for years, the outfit has been centered on Fillmore Avenue in Tonawanda, where much of its operations will remain, despite a recent expansion to the more centralized Amherst.
“We moved our headquarters there,” Brauner said. “But we’re keeping the Fillmore office. It will always be a part of our operation.”
Clark was also known for his devotion to the game of chess, employees recalled, sometimes challenging them mid-shift.
Tim Bantle, paramedic supervisor, said he has worked for Twin City Ambulance for the majority of the last two decades, with a brief stint with another company. But it was in large part Clark’s presence that brought him back.
“You’re not a number here, you’re a person,” he said. I would jump to the ready for this company and that’s because of people like Jerry and his family, who make sure the company is run so well. He created this for us, he’ll be sorely missed.”
A wake will be held for Clark today and Thursday at the Amigone Funeral Home, 2600 Sheridan Drive, Tonawanda. A funeral service will be held at 9:30 a.m. Friday at St. Christopher’s Church.