Buffalo said goodbye to champions of all sorts in 2011.
Beloved sports heroes, two internationally renowned scientists, a photographer and a playwright who were integral to Buffalo's cultural landscape and a luminary of Western New York journalism were among those lost this year.
Here's a look back at their lives:
Cookie Gilchrist, the Buffalo Bills' first superstar, who at a bruising 6-foot-3 and 251 pounds was one of the most powerful runners the game had ever seen, died Jan. 10 after a battle with cancer. He was 75.
His exploits in helping the Bills to their first American Football League championship helped ingrain the Bills as part of the fabric of the society. Gilchrist came to Buffalo as a 27-year-old "rookie" in 1962 after spending the previous six seasons in the Canadian Football League.
Over the next three seasons, he combined for 3,931 yards rushing and receiving and scored 35 touchdowns. He set a single-game pro football rushing record with 243 yards in a 1963 game against the New York Jets in War Memorial Stadium. He rushed for 122 yards in the Bills' 20-7 victory over the San Diego Chargers for the AFL championship in 1964.
Tests conducted on his brain after his death showed he had suffered significant brain damage associated with repeated head trauma that doctors and family members said may explain his short temper and aggressive behavior in his later years.
*Milton Rogovin, the Buffalo social documentary photographer who became internationally renowned for revealing the unsung stories and inherent dignity of the poor, the disinherited and the working class, died Jan. 18. in his Chatham Avenue home. He was 101.
Mr. Rogovin turned to photography not long after being hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee in October 1957 for leftist political activity. His first social documentary series, "Storefront Churches -- Buffalo," was photographed on the East Side and completed in 1961. His photography would take him from West Side street corners and Lackawanna steel factories to fields in Chile and coal mines in Appalachia, Zimbabwe, Spain, Mexico, Cuba and elsewhere.
His photography, slow to gain recognition, today is in permanent collections around the world, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the Cleveland Museum of Art to the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Museum Folkwang in Essen, Germany.
*Manny Fried, the actor, union organizer and prolific playwright who stood up to McCarthyism and served as an outspoken champion of the working class, died Feb. 25 in a Kenmore nursing home. He was 97.
Right up until his passing, he was a guiding presence in Buffalo's theater, literary and social activist communities, and was widely regarded as the most important figure on Buffalo's theater scene.
Once dubbed "the most dangerous man in Western New York" for his union-organizing activities and association with the Communist Party, Fried was the subject of government investigations and public recriminations for much of his life.
Fried became an English and creative-writing professor at Buffalo State College and mentored dozens of local playwrights.
Fried drew on his experiences as a labor organizer for his writing, penning more than two dozen plays, including the commercially successful "Drop Hammer" and "Dodo Bird," each of which has been frequently produced outside of Buffalo.
*Rick Martin, beloved former Sabres star who was part of the legendary "French Connection," died March 13 when he suffered a medical emergency while driving on Main Street in Clarence. He was 59.
Martin scored 382 goals in 681 games with the Sabres from 1971 to 1981. He scored 52 goals in 1974-75 to help lead the Sabres to the Stanley Cup finals, where they lost to Philadelphia. The Quebec native was inducted into the Sabres' Hall of Fame in 1989.
Just after new owner Terry Pegula took over the team in February, Martin and fellow "French Connection" linemates Gilbert Perreault and Rene Robert greeted Pegula at center ice for the owner's first game. That reunion turned out to be Martin's final appearance.
Martin was known as the kind of man who always took the time out to talk to his many fans across Western New York.
Like Gilchrist, studies on Martin's brain showed he, too, had suffered damage consistent with head trauma.
*James T. Molloy, who rose from South Buffalo's Democratic ward politics to Washington's highest levels as doorkeeper of the House of Representatives, died July 19 in Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester. He was 75.
Affable, engaging, a storyteller of the first magnitude and brilliant in his grasp of politics and government, Mr. Molloy oversaw a House staff of almost 400 from 1974 until the GOP took over in 1994 and the 215-year-old post was abolished. Along the way, he befriended such major Washington figures as Speaker Thomas P. O'Neill Jr., President Ronald Reagan and Rep. Hugh L. Carey, who became New York governor, while also helping ordinary Buffalo youngsters find jobs as congressional pages or introducing them to Washington power brokers. "Mr. Speaker, the president of the United States," Molloy trumpeted annually during the arrival of six presidents to deliver their State of the Union addresses.
But for all his access to the powerful, Molloy was known as a "Buffalo guy." When NBC's Tom Brokaw every year introduced Molloy just as the president entered for the State of the Union, he regularly referred to him as "the pride of South Buffalo."
*Wilson Greatbatch, the eclectic inventor, engineer and industrialist known worldwide for creating the first heart pacemaker successfully implanted in a human, and developing the lithium battery to keep it running, died Sept. 27 surrounded by family in Oxford Village at Canterbury Woods, Amherst. He was 92.
A quiet man who wore a trademark bow tie, Greatbatch had an amazing mind and made an indelible impression.
He was working on new transistors at the Chronic Disease Research Institute at the University at Buffalo recording high-frequency heart sounds when, as the story goes, he mistakenly installed a resistor with the wrong resistence.
But he recognized that the pulse it created was identical to a normal beating heart. He tinkered with the circuit for years. In 1960, local surgeons performed the first successful cardiac pacemaker implant in a human. It worked without problems for 18 months. Today, an estimated 1 million people worldwide have a pacemaker implanted each year.
In 1984, Greatbatch's implantable cardiac pacemaker was named one of the 10 outstanding U.S. engineering achievements of the last 50 years by the National Society of Professional Engineers. He was a member of the prestigious National Inventors Hall of Fame and held a National Medal of Technology, which he received in 1990 from then-President George H.W. Bush at the White House.
*Murray B. Light, a key figure in the history of Buffalo journalism who served as editor for 20 of his 50 years at The Buffalo News, died Oct. 14, on his 85th birthday, in his Buffalo home. During his career in Buffalo, starting as a reporter in 1949 and ending with his 1999 retirement, Light directed coverage of a city and its people with a keen devotion to ethics and principles.
He guided The News into an era of modern technology, introduced the Sunday edition, won a battle for survival with the rival Courier-Express, saw News political cartoonist Tom Toles win a Pulitzer Prize and set the stage for the Internet age in which The News maintains a major presence.
*Kent Hull, one of the best players in the Buffalo Bills' Super Bowl era and one of the strongest leaders the team ever has seen, died at age 50 on Oct. 18 in his hometown of Greenwood, Miss.
Hull was the greatest center who ever played for the Bills. He anchored the Bills' offensive line from 1986 to 1996 and was one of the most important members of the Bills' no-huddle offense, making all of the line's blocking adjustments for quarterback Jim Kelly.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Hull was inducted onto the Bills' Wall of Fame in 2002. He was inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.
*Dr. Herbert A. Hauptman, Ph.D., who won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1985 for pioneering work on crystal structures, died Oct. 23. He was 94.
A brilliant mathematician and scientist, the president of the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute spent most of his life searching for answers to the mysteries of the structure of crystals and molecules.
Although he never invented a drug or medicine, his research made it easier for other scientists to develop thousands of drugs and medical procedures to treat a wide array of illnesses.
When Hauptman and his longtime research partner, Jerome Karle, Ph.D., won the Nobel Prize, they were honored for "outstanding achievements in the development of direct methods for the determination of crystal structures."