Sean Kirst - The Buffalo News

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Sean Kirst

Sean Kirst is a columnist for The Buffalo News. Raised in Dunkirk, he has been an Upstate journalist for more than 40 years.


Local News

John O'Rourk often apologizes for his memory. The retired Buffalo police officer suffered a massive heart attack 18 years ago. He'd been using the snowblower at his West Seneca home. He started to feel "a little wobbly." He suddenly endured crushing pressure — what he describes as "an elephant's foot" — upon his chest. At the hospital, the doctors decided the damag…

Columns

The encounter, brief and unforgettable, returned to Shannon Davis as soon as she read the news reports. She is an Atlanta photographer, born in Buffalo, who's been working for two years on a photo essay about her hometown. Her focus is capturing the lives of everyday people in the city's Old First Ward. Three months ago, in July, Buffalo Police Officer Sean Zoll agreed …

Columns

Officer Craig Lehner brought his dog Shield with him Friday, when he drove to the Niagara River for training with other police divers. That was standard and vigilant behavior, said  Lt. Salvatore Losi, commanding officer of the department's K-9 unit. Dog and master were all but inseparable, and Lehner wanted Shield to be nearby if they were called to some emergency. …

Columns

Sister Kathleen Dougherty expected this phase in her career to involve peace and quiet. She had already retired three times from teaching jobs in South Carolina and Western New York. In 2015, she moved into the new St. Mary's Center on Buffalo's West Side, where her fellow Sisters of St. Mary of Namur needed someone who could play the organ. Dougherty planned on help…

Columns

I am betting that I am hardly alone in this memory. More than a half-century ago, I was a little kid in Western New York, the youngest child in a factory family. We'd drive through downtown Buffalo in early evening, the sky just bright enough to highlight the silhouettes of the twin statues atop the Liberty Building, one facing east, one facing west, with electric torch…

Columns

Derek Rose, a Buffalo firefighter, didn't know every detail of the story. How could he know that if Howard Zemsky hadn't knocked on an old screen door on an old Wayne County house at exactly the right moment on a morning maybe six years ago – a moment when no one happened to be home - Zemsky and a friend, Tim Tielman, would never have taken a ride to buy breakfast at…

Columns

Mike Taheri forwarded the text message. He made sure that it was OK with Diego Reynoso, the young man who sent it. To Taheri, the text made the point: Good afternoon Mike, I just wanted to tell you I have a 95 'solid A' overall grad so far in EMT …. I haven't failed any skills nor received a test grade lower than a 90. I will have an update for you on nursing af…

Columns

The plan, only last week, was to write this column as a light piece, a morning smile. The goal was to spotlight how an ordinary person, in this case a woman known only as "Silvia" to about 45,000 of us in a crowded stadium, could put on a cardboard birthday tiara and sash from Party City in Blasdell and for a few burning minutes ascend to local legend. Finding Silvia …

Local News

Chris Palmeri, a Buffalo native, fell asleep early Sunday night in his Las Vegas apartment. A big crowd of Western New Yorkers had shown up at one of his Naked City pizza shops to watch as the Buffalo Bills defeated Atlanta, a game that erupted into a celebration. Palmeri, as he describes it, was completely beat. Yet he popped awake maybe an hour later for a reason he c…

Local News

(This column, originally published digitally a year ago, has been updated for the Oct. 1, 2017, print edition of The Buffalo News): People travel for miles to buy wooden lacrosse sticks they've ordered from Alf Jacques. They drive Route 11A, through the Onondaga Nation, until they find his little shop beneath a hill. Alf will hand them a stick, polished hickory shini…

Local News

The mobile phone started buzzing about 10:30 a.m. Friday, in Dunkirk City Hall. Hector Rosas pulled it out of his pocket, and a woman whose voice he didn't recognize told him she was with someone who wanted to speak to him. For a second, there was a pause. "This is Rosalia Rosas Valentin," another woman said, as if in introduction. "Mom, it's me!" said Hector, who…

Columns

This is not the first time I wished I could still make the call. For the last few days, as the nation debated and agonized over the question of what defines respect for the national anthem and the flag, as the president said the issue threatens the future of the National Football League, I kept thinking of the powerful stories, easy laugh and intense presence of Earl Lloyd…

Local News

The Buffalo office of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer has reached out to Mayor Willie Rosas of Dunkirk, and the senator's staff members have promised to assist the mayor in the quest to reach his mother. As The Buffalo News reported earlier today, Rosas and his three siblings have been unable to reach their mother, Rosalia, 79, for six days, since Hurricane Maria caused sweep…

Columns

Willie Rosas is thinking about his mother's advice, more than ever. Twenty months ago, Rosalia Rosas flew home to watch as Willie was inaugurated as the mayor of Dunkirk in Chautauqua County. It was an unforgettable moment. Willie's parents were born in Puerto Rico. In Dunkirk, with a population of not quite 12,000, he became the first Latino in state history to be elec…

Columns

Ralph Sirianni took his cue from Walter Prochownik, his mentor in life and art. Siranni studied under Prochownik, a renowned painter, in the 1970s at the University at Buffalo. Sirianni, 68, raised on the city's West Side, was a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam. Prochownik, who left Poland as a young man to escape the invading Nazis, resettled in Buffalo and saw combat d…