Joseph J. Illuzzi, who built PoliticsNY.net into a tip sheet for local politicos, died Tuesday morning after a lengthy illness. He was 65.
Mr. Illuzzi, a lifelong Buffalo resident who graduated from Bennett High School, was an often-controversial online voice who turned political gossip and news into a business that attracted both the readership and advertisements of Western New York politicians.
"He's been hard on a lot of politicians, and he's been nice to other ones," said County Legislature Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant.
"At the end of the day, I think his website was one of the first places people went, No. 1, to find out what's going on politically, and No. 2, to find out what Joe thought of a certain individual."
"He was pretty active staying abreast of political issues," said his sister, JoAnn Greenzweig.
"He was very willing to express his thoughts. He was fearless, I'd say, when it came to stating his political opinions. He expressed what he thought."
Illuzzi, a registered Conservative, started his political dispatches in paper form, distributing a newsletter called the Illuzzi Letter, which he then turned into a website, according to Glenn Gramigna, who worked for Illuzzi for nearly seven years before starting his own website.
"He was a pioneer in this business of Western New York political websites and making them commercially viable, too," said Gramigna. Mr. Illuzzi also published a monthly magazine for a short time.
Mr. Illuzzi maintained up-to-date Facebook and Twitter accounts associated with PoliticsNY.net, despite his illness. All three of the accounts remained active for viewing Tuesday night.
His most recent Tweets, including three from last Wednesday, detailed updated polling data from the presidential race along with Mr. Illuzzi's take on filling the chairmanship of Erie County's Democratic Party, the county comptroller's race and reflections from this month's primary elections.
Besides his interest in politics, Greenzweig said, her brother also was fond of physical fitness and was a regular jogger.
He is survived by his daughter, Sarah Ann; thee other sisters, Dr. Lena Cool, Maria Burgler and Mary Jo Illuzzi; and four brothers, Dr. Salvatore, James, Thomas and Christopher.
A private service will be held in ealy October.