Former Canisius College men’s basketball player Donald Harnett ’51 passed away Monday, Dec. 30 in Millard Filmore Suburban Hospital. He was 85.
Hartnett, a Buffalo native, graduated from St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute in 1945. After spending one year in the Army, he enrolled at Canisius College and was a member of the varsity basketball team, playing in the 1945-46 and 1947-48 seasons, and then again from 1949-51. He earned his undergraduate degree from the College in 1951 and went to work for the FBI, where he served for 28 years and helped bring some of Western New York’s most infamous criminals to justice.
On the basketball court, Hartnett played 93 games for the Golden Griffins, where he averaged 6.6 points per game. In his senior season of 1950-51, he led the Blue and Gold with his 12.0 points per game as the team posted a 15-10 record with wins over schools such as Texas, Utah, Arizona, Duke, Boston College, Notre Dame and Syracuse. He was inducted into the Canisius College Sports Hall of Fame in 1970.
Upon retirement in 1979, Hartnett went on to teach criminal justice at Erie Community College and also was an investigator for the U.S. Department of State. He also served as a security representative for both the National Hockey League and the National Football League, which allowed him to accompany the Buffalo Bills to all four Super Bowls in the early 1990s.
Hartnett was a member of the 8,000-member Society for the Former Agents of the FBI, of which he was elected president in 1994.
He is survived by two daughters, Mary Pat Brennan and Kathleen Callahan; four sons, Timothy, James, Thomas and Dennis; and 19 grandchildren.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, in St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church, located at 200 St. Gregory Court, Williamsville, N.Y.