Sean Kirst, The Buffalo News - Page 3 of 9
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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.


Lamont Perry couldn't simply let it pass. Last month, a contractor for the city leveled the old Salem Evangelical Reformed Church on Sherman Street, leaving just the bell tower as a kind of neighborhood monument. If you look through the chain link fence that separates the sidewalk from the brick rubble, the lonesome tower is the only sign a church was ever there. To…

The stinking discharge is a prime reminder of why Thomas Kegler, a few years ago, hesitated about painting Niagara Falls. The East Aurora artist was deeply influenced by the Hudson River school of painting, a group of 19th century visionaries who sought the sublime and dramatic in nature. Kegler went searching for a location that offered similar majesty. The falls were …

Fran Barry is the living resolution to a mystery, even if he sees it as no mystery at all. Barry points out that he hasn't exactly been in hiding. You can find the 80-year-old Buffalo Bisons fan at almost any game at Coca-Cola Field, seated next to his good friend Jim McGowan, in the first row behind the Bisons dugout. Yet Barry holds the answer to a question Cy Krit…

If you want the secret, maybe it was the shoes. Officer Patrick McDonald does not wear your grandfather's thick-soled leather police shoes. He wears jet black, uniform-matching, department-approved black Under Armour sneakers, which allow him to be nimble in any number of split-second on-the-job situations. Let's say, for instance, he was playing wide receiver in a game…

Marsha Connor had a gift Friday for Helen Donovan. She brought a golden bag and pair of slippers, covered with glittering golden sparkles, for the 98th birthday of the woman who is believed to be the oldest Gold Star mother in New York State, and certainly among the oldest in the nation. Helen loved the presents. She gave Marsha a kiss. She laughed and sang a song, a…

The great structure is almost unimaginable for its size, stretching for a distance of not quite 2 miles at a height of 42 feet, with a width that extends at its base to 150 feet. It is a vast wall of stone, impossible to see in its entirety, its function and history intertwined with the absolute DNA of why Buffalo exists. While much of it is invisible, it is the ultimat…

The plaque, a replica of a gift to the people of Dunkerque, France, hangs in the second floor corridor of Dunkirk City Hall, a couple of blocks from Lake Erie. It has been there for decades, a gesture to emphasize a bond of deep affection, and Dunkirk Mayor Willie Rosas sees it as a daily reminder of civic purpose. "We need to remember," he said, "great things can happe…

To Lum Smith, it is a kind of sacred place. He made that point last week as he walked along Woodlawn Avenue in Buffalo, near the Masten Avenue intersection, even if nothing around him seemed unusual: A few old wooden houses with potted flowers on the porches, an open lot where another home once stood, the morning hum of a worker mowing a lawn at the Buffalo Academy for Vis…

Bill Krupp Jr. has a story that melds powerfully with Buffalo's industrial tumult, with the economic ups and downs of the past half-century. In a sense, his life was emblematic of the fortunes of dozens of job aspirants who showed up Tuesday at a Panasonic information session at the Seneca-Babcock Community Center, where a roomful of men and women hoped for an answer to…

Sometimes Jerry Janan stops, even now, to contemplate the impossible. The gracious house in a quiet Williamsville neighborhood. The wife who's been at his side for 57 years. The family they built together. The teaching career. The buddies he golfs with. Even the last name that did not belong to him when he was born. "The big thing is," he said, "I feel like I've been…

Just a story. It doesn't really have a point. Except, I guess, that it caused me to remember something my father used to say. So I've been working full time at The News for a month and a half. Not long after I started, I was driving eastbound on Scott Street when I almost drove into traffic on Louisiana. I braked and did a double-take. There was a stop sign at the in…

The inscription is almost unreadable, letters covered by moss and soil, stone worn away by years of rain and wind. The tombstone, a tall obelisk, is on a tiny hill in the Cold Springs Cemetery in Lockport, a monument so forgotten a tree limb obscures its peak. Stare hard enough, and you realize the epitaph begins with these words: "The first ideas of the Erie Canal .…

Michael Lesakowski Sr. made sure the real inspiration for Monday's monumental hockey feat had a presence in the stands. He wore a shirt to Buffalo's HarborCenter that carried an image of his wife, Evelyn. Michael Sr. was there to watch a group of primarily everyday guys establish a still-unofficial world record by finishing off a game of hockey played for 11 days, without …

Forty hockey players, many in their 40s and 50s, successfully achieved a new world's record for Buffalo early today at the HarborCenter, shattering a record for the longest continuous hockey game - assuming the carefully documented feat is certified by Guinness World Records. The Buffalo effort raised more than $1.2 million for the Roswell Park Cancer Center, according …

When the Grand Island toll barriers finally come down, especially if it happens in the reasonably near future, there might be two key moments to remember. The first occurred last year, when Brian Michel was on his way home to Niagara County from a new job in Buffalo. Michel, a grant writer, was hurrying to a parent-teacher conference involving his fiancee's 11-year-old …