Stanford Lipsey (always Stan to us) was a titan in this community, one of its fiercest supporters. He was a preservationist, philanthropist and community leader in the truest sense of the word.
Lipsey’s passion for Buffalo was unparalleled. He cared deeply for the history and future of this community.
His dogged determination to salvage the historically significant H.H. Richardson complex is the reason it is standing strong and, as the Richardson-Olmsted Complex, looking to a future as a hotel and conference center. His key role in the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin Martin House has allowed thousands of visitors a year to enjoy this masterwork.
As his good friend, M&T Bank Corp. Chairman and CEO Robert G. Wilmers, said: “He went out of his way to focus on many of our architectural treasures, whether it was the Richardson Building or the Darwin Martin House.” Wilmers and Lipsey teamed up in buying four New England newspapers last spring.
Yes, he loved architecture and history. He also loved music and started the Jazz at the Albright-Knox Series and was a contributor, benefactor and friend to what is now known as the Pappy Martin Legacy Masten Jazz Festival. He also was an artist. His photography has been on display in cultural institutions throughout Buffalo.
Lipsey impacted virtually every aspect of this community. His behind-the-scenes influence made the construction of a new airport terminal in Buffalo a reality and opened the way for low-cost carriers such as Southwest Airlines and JetBlue.
His influence in getting his good friend, Warren E. Buffett (chairman of The News), to consider Buffalo for a Geico expansion has resulted in thousands of well-paying jobs at its customer service center in Amherst.
Lipsey championed downtown Buffalo’s revival when it seemed others had given up. He let his feelings be known when businesses fled to the suburbs. Today’s steady revitalization of the city’s core proved the clarity of his vision.
This community was well served by his keen insight. In his nearly 30 years as publisher, he promoted numerous local causes: Kids Day, Cradle Beach Camp, the Junior League of Buffalo Decorators’ Show House, The News Neediest Fund, Books for Kids and the Summer Jazz Series. His leadership posts on community boards, agencies and initiatives could fill this space.
Lipsey lived the mantra of giving. He donated $1 million to Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the SPCA Serving Erie County, and $3 million to his alma mater, the University of Michigan.
He displayed that same giving nature and commitment to community in his native Omaha, Neb., where he was born on Oct. 8, 1927. It was where his intense interest in photography and newspapers began and grew through his years in college and the Air Force, which included service during the Korean War.
Omaha was also the place where he became publisher, president and majority owner of the Sun Newspapers. He eventually sold the newspaper group to Buffett’s Blue Chip Stamps, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway.
After Blue Chip Stamps bought what was then The Buffalo Evening News in 1977, Buffett consulted with his good friend on how to wage the fight-to-the-death newspaper battle underway between his new venture and the Courier-Express. Buffett has credited Lipsey for The News’ success in that fight – the Courier closed in 1982. “I say it’s no exaggeration that The News might now be extinct, save for Stan,” Buffett said. “We were getting clobbered. If Stan hadn’t come there, I don’t think we would have made it.”
After naming Lipsey the sixth publisher of The News in 1983, Buffett credited him for its continued survival – as he guided the paper through journalism’s seismic changes.
Lipsey had a keen eye for news and expected the same level of passion and commitment from his employees. The News won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990 for the work of editorial cartoonist Tom Toles and Lipsey was publisher when The News hired Adam Zyglis, who won the Pulitzer in the same category last year.
Lipsey took understandably great pride in the 1973 Pulitzer he and Buffett were awarded when they partnered in the Sun’s exposé of fundraising at Father Flanagan’s Boys Town. It was the first Pulitzer won by a weekly newspaper.
Lipsey retired as publisher at the end of 2012 and assumed the title of publisher emeritus.
As publisher, Lipsey was a strong presence on The News editorial board. He was never shy about offering his opinions on civic matters. Those opinions often formed the basis of editorials urging civic leaders to get behind projects that would improve his adopted city.
His contributions in raising the conversation here at the newspaper and in the community have been invaluable.
Lipsey epitomized what it is to be passionate and dedicated to home and community.