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PAIR GIVES ORPHANS CHANCE TO REUNITE

"About two years ago you wrote that Bobbye and David Delgado were among the top five warmest people you ever met. Did what happened Saturday night at Gateway Niagara cause any changes?"

The person who put that question to me was told, "The Delgados didn't have to prove anything to me, but some of the things they did last week sure make the couple among the warmest duo I know."

Indeed, the only regret I had about that first Saturday night in October was that there wasn't a TV crew around to record what I call "The Delgados' Buffalo reunion." They are Floridians.

Now the screen shimmers, and I am back at my first Buffalo Night in Florida in February 1991. A man named Frank Tobias is introducing me to Bobbye and David Delgado, a displaced Buffalonian. Bobbye is from Missouri.

After a while the quiet David is asking, "Would you mention in your column that I am interested in having a reunion? I want to see the people who were in the Protestant Home for Unprotected Children the same time I was. They should call me collect."

Even though I mentioned the wrong time that Delgado was in the home, we had a reunion of about 12 people at E.B. Green's in the Hyatt Regency.

The next year we met at Daffodil's in Amherst. Then the Delgados decided to invite anyone who had ever been in the orphanage to share their good fortune. (Bobbye is not an orphan but does the reunions because they "make David happy.") Indeed, in September they used radio ads to promote the reunion.

Here I should note that Delgado, who arrived in Florida 44 years ago with about $75 in his kick, has become a successful businessman in the Fort Lauderdale area. That didn't surprise anyone who knew the work habits of the former paratrooper.

Anyway, it was at the 1995 affair that I learned the Delgados' secret. Yes, they do more than invite people to the reunions; they pay for anyone who needs help to get to Buffalo.

At the 1995 event, I met a man who had been seeking a reunion with his sisters, whom he hadn't seen in years. Trouble is that he was in Texas and they were here.

A ticket appeared, and anyone who wondered aloud about that was greeted with a wink and a nod toward Bobbye, the "can-do" logistician of the couple.

That person was on the scene Oct. 4. So, too, were Joan and Bob Sleap of the original dinner and many others who kept asking, "How many years were you in the home?"

Each year the Delgados have a theme for the reunion. Last year, they had a military motif, and there was a color guard from Amherst Township Veterans of Foreign Post 416 on hand.

This time around, there was a Thanksgiving theme, but the members of the color guard again were invited. So, too, was Nina Kolby, who was in the home in 1917. Until I met Nona, the record was held by a woman from 1922.

Among the 216 guests were good folks like Dorothy Mahoney, (David Delgado's sister) Frances, Joe, Michelle and Mark Vitale, Marge and Roy Schreckengast, Ruth and Ed Malzan, Joyce and Ken Benzman and Phyllis, Sam and Jim Sterlace.

Yes, it was a mixed bag. But all agreed that when they left the reunion they felt better about being on the same planet with two unselfish people like Bobbye and David Delgado.

TRIVIA EXPERTS GATHERING. I hope I will meet the people next Sunday who answer my Wednesday trivia questions. We are having a free reception at the Italian Village, 804 Wehrle Drive, Williamsville.

That place is located near the Thruway, and anyone who has ever answered any trivia question is invited. Spouses, girlfriends and "significant others" also are welcome. The session will run from 3 to 5 p.m., and there is no Bills game that day.

There will be no speeches.

Today's Score. Patriots 31, Bills 20.

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