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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.


Columns

If everything went as it did for decades, this would have been one of Rosemary Billquist's favorite days of the year. The alarm clock would have gone off around 6 a.m. and the alarm on her phone would have kicked in as well, but she would have slept straight through, because she always slept hard. Her husband, Jamie, knowing his wife, would have gone outdoors to clea…

Columns

Every day, every season, can be different on Lake Erie. The coldest winter in years has tightened the opportunities for David Sandford to do what brings him every year to the shore, and he was grateful for what he saw on Dec. 6, when the lake is often at its wildest. Lake Erie, pitching and violent, seemed alive. Sandford moved in and out of the water at Port Stanley, O…

Columns

Kriner Cash, superintendent of the Buffalo city schools, spent a lot of time Saturday contemplating what he'll say tonight from the stage at Kleinhans Music Hall, the same stage where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed Buffalo only a little more than 50 years ago. Cash will be particularly conscious of the young adults and children in the audience from throughout…

Columns

In a way, the Hotel Niagara as it appeared in its heyday still exists. Talk to Deb Sticht, or Paul Verciglio, or Carolyn Mancuso, and they can close their eyes and take you through it as it was, step by step. Follow their memories, push through the revolving door, and you are greeted by a doorman named John, a slender, genial guy in white gloves and a long red coat. To …

Columns

It was one of those stories that you had to read twice, to fully take it in. In a meeting with lawmakers Thursday, President Trump reportedly said this nation does not need more people from countries that he labeled with a well-known pejorative, a graphic affront. It was part of a discussion involving immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and the collected nations of Afric…

Columns

Sara Heidinger used to tend bar and wait tables at the Swannie House, in Buffalo's First Ward. She grew up in the neighborhood, and she quickly learned one of the central lessons of that trade. If you listen, you'll glean wisdom from the people you serve. One of the customers was Rick Smith, the entrepreneur who turned an old Buffalo grain elevator into the 21st cent…

Columns

Colleen Phillips said her father's memory is a complicated thing. John Phillips can get up in the morning and forget where he put his glasses, or any appointments he planned for the day. He'll settle into a big chair in the living room of Colleen's house in South Buffalo, where great-grandchildren a solid 90 years younger than he is will present him with pictures they c…

Bills

This is an acknowledgement, up front. A few days ago, after the Buffalo Bills officially made it to the National Football League playoffs for the first time in 17 years, I wrote a column asking readers to tell me what that moment meant to them. Whatever I expected, the response went beyond it. I received a digital Niagara of notes, letters and  messages. The passion in …

Columns

A few days ago, I asked readers to explain what it meant to them at the moment they knew the Buffalo Bills were in the playoffs, after a 17-year absence, the infamous "Drought." The answers poured in. Here is the entire collection of responses available thus far, more than 100 tales of tributes, exaltation, disbelief and joy, beginning with the memories of the pastor of…

Bills

The moment said everything. It was perfect, capsulizing emotions felt throughout Western New York, even if U.S. Army Maj. Patrick Miller earned a larger perspective through a trial none of us would want to face. He is a Buffalo Bills fan, going back to his earliest memories. He is stationed in Hawaii, and he watched on television Sunday with his wife, Ashley, as the Bil…

Columns

The real story with this piece is the reader response. If you get a chance, check the flood of passionate, from-the-heart replies from Bills loyalists in the comments immediately following the column, people who've invested a part of their lives in this team – and feel free to add your own perspective. If you have any celebratory reaction videos from when you first found o…

Columns

One privilege of another year of column writing involves conversations with unforgettable people, who offer memorable quotes. As 2017 nears its close, here are just a few examples from the last 12 months, part of the gift of hearing the great stories of Buffalo and Upstate New York. Jan. 27:  - "That wind, that howling, that noise. It was life or death. It was like bein…

Columns

Irv Weinstein has died. If you're of a certain age in Western New York, the chances are you're feeling it. Yet how do you explain to your kids what this means? They have grown up in the age of Spectrum, of on-demand and YouTube. Television alone offers hundreds of options, and the internet is a galaxy unto itself. If our kids or their kids want news, they can turn…

Featured

This is the surprise. You'd think the Rev. Roy Herberger would nurse a burning desire to see the Holy Land. His passion is gathering nativity scenes, mangers, from around the world. Viewing his collection has become a Christmas tradition in Buffalo, these nativities made of bottle caps or old auto parts or polished coal, each one interpreting the saga of a child born in ut…

Columns

The office is on the 19th floor of One M&T Plaza. Piles of documents, stacked in a system only Bob Wilmers exactly understood, line the wall behind the desk. From that vantage point, Wilmers could glance down at Coca-Cola Field. It was especially helpful when his son served as a bat boy for the Buffalo Bisons, almost 30 years ago. On his desk, to the right, is a …