April 28, 1957 -- July 19, 2017
Tom Zindle, a mainstay on Buffalo's theater scene known for his imposing stage presence and versatility, died Wednesday after suffering a heart attack. He was 60.
Zindle, often cast as the patriarch or authority figure in recent years, was one of eight siblings born to Edward Zindle, a laborer for South Buffalo Railway and Patricia Zindle, a homemaker.
He attended Cheektowaga Central School and went on to study theater at Niagara University. After taking an interest in theater in high school, Zindle entered Buffalo's dinner theater scene in the late 1970s. He worked his way up from ensemble parts to larger roles at the Kavinoky Theatre, Shakespeare in Delaware Park and the Irish Classical Theatre Company.
He joined Actors Equity Association in the late '70s and remained a member of the actor's union through much of his career. He also worked as an IT professional, for a time leading his own company, ZinTech, and working for the local IT service company CompuCom.
"Zindle brings extraordinary energy to his portrayals," Buffalo News critic Terry Doran wrote of Zindle's performance in a 1993 production of "Billy Bishop Goes to War." "They are deft and thoroughly convincing, and he has just the right way with Bishop's sense of self-deprecating humor. It is all around one of the most entertaining performances Buffalo theater has seen."
Alleyway Theatre founder Neal Radice, who directed Zindle in that production, recalled him as an enthusiastic actor eager to take on new challenges and to grow with every role.
"I think he could have done 'Billy Bishop Goes to War' for the rest of his life. He was so happy doing it," said Radice, who also directed Zindle in a production of "Zastrozzi, the Master of Discipline" that required him to learn sword fighting. "He was ready to do anything."
Zindle also played the lead role in Radice's musical "Peer," in tribute to his late brother Joe, who had played the role in a previous production. He earned a rave from critic Anthony Chase for his performance in a 1992 Upstage Theatre production of "Pippin." Chase praised Zindle for his timing and "precise and possessing physicality."
In 1996, Zindle moved to New York City, where he worked for American Express and had bit parts in "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit," according to his daughter, Mary E. Hicks. He turned to Buffalo and its theater scene in 2003, starring in a number of well-received productions including "Man of La Mancha" at the Kavinoky Theatre, "A Man of No Importance" at the Irish Classical and "Promises, Promises" at the Lancaster Opera House.
"He was a tremendous actor. He would call a spade a spade, he wouldn't take crap from anybody, he would give as good as he got, always," said Buffalo actor Gerry Maher, one of Zindle's best friends. Despite his no-nonsense attitude and some health struggles in recent years, Maher said, Zindle always maintained a positive outlook.
"He always felt positive. His great line to me was always: 'Where do we go from here?' "
In addition to his daughter, Mary, survivors include two brothers, Edward and Norman; three sisters, Patricia Zindle, Michelle Lewke and Irene Travis; and two sons, Benjamin T. and Nathan J.
A memorial will be held at 6:30 p.m. Monday in the Lenox Grill, 140 North St.