Frank J. Schieppati, archaeologist who worked in the Caribbean, dies at 69

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An obituary by Dale Anderson for the Buffalo News.

Frank J. Schieppati, a professional archaeologist who conducted more than 400 explorations throughout the eastern United States and the Caribbean, died Aug. 6 in his Niagara Falls home after a battle with lung cancer. He was 69.

As vice president, senior archaeologist and preservation planner with Pan American Consultants Inc., an environmental consulting firm, since 1996, he led historic investigations for clients that included the City of Buffalo, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

His projects, notably for Canalside, the restoration of vehicle traffic on Buffalo’s Main Street, the Southtowns Connector in Buffalo’s Outer Harbor and the Robert Moses Parkway redevelopment, turned up valuable information about Western New York history.

At Canalside, which he described in a 2005 interview with The Buffalo News as one of the five richest sites for artifacts that he had ever encountered, his team unearthed more than 15,000 items, some at least 1,000 years old.

Born in Buffalo, Frank James Schieppati was a 1966 graduate of Niagara Falls High School, where he played varsity football, baseball and tennis. During the Vietnam War, he served in the Air Force Security Service in Germany and Italy.

After returning from service, he studied anthropology at the University at Buffalo, earning a bachelor’s degree magna cum laude in 1976, a master’s degree in 1978 and a doctorate in 1983.

Mr. Schieppati served as an environmental specialist with the cultural resources section state Department of Environmental Conservation at its central office in Albany from 1983 to 1991, then was DEC’s senior environmental analyst in Buffalo.

He became director of environmental services and senior environmental planner for the City of Niagara Falls in 1992, directing the operation and application of the city’s Geographic Information System, developing a plan for recycling and serving as city preservation planner. He also was a member of the Love Canal Area Revitalization Agency and headed the city’s Neighborhood Cleanup Team.

For several years, he studied rock art in the Caribbean, furthering the knowledge of the region’s prehistoric religions by translating the primitive carved and painted images into symbolic categories. His research was published in numerous scholarly journals and conference papers.

He enjoyed technology and science fiction.

Survivors include his wife of 38 years, the former Sheila M. Bonn; a son, Alexander; a daughter, Carina Harkins; two step-sons, Benjamin Gelyon and Joshua Gelyon; a brother, Daniel; and a granddaughter.

Services were held Aug. 10 in Sieck, Mast & Leslie Funeral Home, 250 Orchard Park Road, West Seneca.

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