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.


Columns

The prediction was meant as a well-intended joke. Last week, The Buffalo News teamed me up with photographer Robert Kirkham and sent us to Florida's Gulf Coast, the day after Hurricane Irma. An editor called me at home before we left. He said the area is beloved by many longtime Western New Yorkers. He was sure we'd meet plenty of men and women with Buffalo roots, affected…

Columns

Doug Crowe found the place almost 30 years ago. He moved to Florida after he was laid off from a job in Niagara County, and a couple of hard winters reinforced his feeling that he needed to get out. He went to the Tampa area with a bag of clothes and a single trunk. Crowe started over. One day, he spotted a bar in St. Petersburg called Nickel City that offered Genesee C…

Columns

NAPLES, Fla. – John Rementeria sent the email Thursday night, from his home. He is a retired New York City firefighter, decorated for bravery. He was standing near Trinity Church, in the shadow of the World Trade Center, when the north tower fell on Sept. 11, 2001. Rementeria lost 35 close friends, "good buddies," in the terrorist attacks that killed thousands. In the…

Columns

BRADENTON, Fla. - Tammy Guayasamin-O'Dell decided to heed the warnings and evacuate. She reserved tickets for a flight to Buffalo. All she had to do was tap one more button on the keyboard. The tickets would be confirmed, and she'd be ready for a journey to Fredonia, her hometown, where she could safely wait out the fury of Hurricane Irma. She looked at the screen for a…

Columns

PALMETTO, FLA. – Salliann Burgio, standing Thursday amid the aftermath of a hurricane, could describe the exact moment when she stepped away from a lifetime in Western New York. It was six or seven years ago, at a barbecue in the City of Tonawanda, not far from River Road. A friend introduced her to Butch Glasgow and Marie Belote, residents of Florida. Burgio, wh…

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DAPHNE, Ala. – Ross Hayes had no regrets about the choice. He and his wife, Camille, loaded up their Honda Accord last Friday with everything precious in their lives. Their son Seth and daughter Arabel squeezed into the small car, joined by a pit bull named Blitz, two kittens – Willow and Autumn – and a guinea pig called Elliott. Like Noah, in a tiny way, they fo…

Columns

An open letter to Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon: Dear Jeff, This has to be one busy Monday morning. In Buffalo, as in just about every city of any size in North America, we've been a little preoccupied with Amazon's announcement about seeking the right place to build a second headquarters. Projections involve such mind-bending numbers as a $5 billion investme…

Columns

Katie O'Brien's apartment in Houston is on the fifth floor. She parks her car in an elevated ramp. When Hurricane Harvey engulfed the city, she looked out her window and saw floodwaters pouring down the street. She was dry. Her car would start. The way she sees it, she was lucky. "Where my heart breaks is for all these people who can't get out," she said of Houston, …

Columns

Patrick Crowley took the call a few nights ago, while he was on the job as a Buffalo cop. The voice on the other end told the officer he'd won a departmental award, and invited him to the annual presentation at Buffalo Police Headquarters. Crowley wasn't buying it. "Come on," he said. He figured it was one of his buddies having some fun with him. But then he saw t…

Columns

It was tracking dogs, on the scent, that finally found Frank. The end to the search was heartbreaking – but at least it was an answer. David Scherff and a friend, Fernando Montalvo, had spent the better part of a week in Katy, Texas, looking for the dog. Scherff, 35, is a native of Buffalo's West Side, a graduate of Starpoint High School. In the first days after th…

Columns

Wally Kowal, at 92, still rides a bicycle – both for joy and to stay in shape. He tries to drink one beer, and one beer only, every day, preferably with dinner, which he sees as a kind of elixir. If he seems young, Wally said, maybe that's why. Friday, on a September morning cool enough for him to wear a windbreaker and a red buttoned vest, he and his grandson Greg…

Columns

The hardest choice was what to bring upstairs. At first, Greg Kopacz and his family figured they had some time. They live in the Champions area, a community within the sprawling boundaries that come together to form Houston. They had witnessed two floods in their neighborhood before, when the water barely crept past the curb in front of their house. For a while they…

Columns

Jessica Falco has never done anything like this in her life. There will be a gathering at 1 p.m. Thursday on Dunkirk's pier, followed by a walk to City Hall, where Falco will stand before the men and women in the crowd and explain why she asked them to come together. For years, she was frightened of speaking in front of groups. But she is calling the event "Not one more…

Columns

David Scherff wants to make a couple of things clear. His overwhelming feeling Monday was relief that Tim Donovan, a former Marine, is safe. Amid the chaos of the flooding in Texas, Scherff feared for a while that Donovan was dead. Scherff, a native of Buffalo's west side and a graduate of Starpoint High School, is intensely conscious of the life or death nature of the …

Columns

Dr. Agnes Szekeres is a retired physician in California. Her husband, Gabor, died seven years ago. At 75, Agnes finds solace in the rich and varied lives of their two grown children and six grandchildren. "My kids," she said. "They all turned out fantastic." For Agnes, who survived catastrophic loss during World War II, that sense of appreciative wonder begins with t…