James H. Watz, 79, attorney specializing in real estate law | Selected Obituaries






May 30, 1942 – March 22, 2022

James H. Watz, a partner in the commercial real estate law firm Phillips Lytle LLP, died March 22 after a long illness. He was 79.

He was born in Buffalo and graduated from Riverside High School in 1959, where he was an All-State tennis player. As an honor student, he was also a member of the basketball team, a member of the student council, and a boy-state representative.

He earned a bachelor’s degree from Canisius College in 1963 and graduated summa cum laude from Boston College Law School. He and his high school sweetheart, Sharon L. Fenlon, married on June 6, 1964.

An officer in the Army Reserve Officers Training Corps at Canisius and Boston College, he served as a Captain in the Judge Advocate Generals Corps and served as Chief of the Military Judiciary. He then joined the faculty of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he was an associate professor of law.

After he and his wife returned to Buffalo in 1971 to be near their families, he took a job at Phillips Lytle. His clients included the Walden Galleria, Canterbury Woods and the Buffalo Sabers. He has been voted one of America’s top attorneys multiple times and served as an advisor to the firm after retiring as a partner in 2003.

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