Longtime Buffalo News publisher Stanford Lipsey, who died Tuesday in California at 89, was remembered in a variety of ways Sunday - as a philanthropist, a talented photographer and, by several dignitaries, as "a newspaperman at heart."
But the first tribute during a memorial service in Temple Beth Zion came from his daughter Janet, who knew him simply as "a fabulous father -- the best."
She recalled how, as a teenager growing up in Omaha, Neb., there was "always music in the house" and Lipsey, a jazz aficionado, would visit his daughter and her friends gathered in the basement of their home.
"You may remember, as teenagers our parents are often a constant source of embarrassment," she said. "But Dad was not. I was actually very proud of him. I loved that he was my dad and my friends really liked him."
Lipsey also appreciated architectural masterpieces, and during a trip to Wisconsin took his indifferent teenage daughter to see the Johnson Wax Headquarters designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It would foreshadow his efforts to restore the Darwin Martin House, also designed by Wright, and the Richardson Olmsted Complex after moving to Buffalo in the early 1980s.
"My dad worked a full and fabulous life with no regrets," Janet Lipsey said. "And he accomplished everything he wanted to do. I think that's a wonderful thing to say about someone."
Those accomplishments were highlighted by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who called Lipsey "a booster of just about everything Buffalo."
"He hovered over this city, always watching out for it, defending it, promoting it," Schumer said. "You can see his presence everywhere right now."
That presence can be found in state aid secured for Roswell Park Cancer Institute, resurrection of the Richardson Complex near SUNY Buffalo State, downtown Buffalo's revitalization and even low-cost airlines at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, Geico's expansion in Amherst and the Buffalo Bills staying in Buffalo, Schumer said.
"Stan had a hand in each and every one of them," he said. "He was always looking out for Buffalo."
Lipsey, an Air Force veteran, was given a military funeral, including presentation of the flag to his wife, Judith, and the playing of "Taps." Then followed the series of tributes from those who knew him best.
Warren T. Colville, his successor as The News publisher, read aloud a letter from Warren E. Buffett, chairman of The News and Lipsey's longtime friend. Together, Lipsey and Buffett led the Sun Newspapers of Omaha to a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for an investigative series about Boys Town.
"Our joy was magnified by the fact that Stan and I had worked together to discover, shape and, to a small extent, write the story," Buffett wrote.
Lipsey agreed to uproot from Omaha when Buffett asked him to save The News in its battle with the Courier-Express.
"With his ever positive attitude, he proceeded to fall in love with Buffalo," Buffett wrote.
Colville, meanwhile, celebrated some of Lipsey's "idiosyncrasies" as a prankster and a "gourmand" who loved jelly doughnuts and knew when they were properly filled -- by weighing them.
"Stan challenged me more than anyone else in my career and he made me a better newspaper man," Colville said. "I'm very, very proud to follow in his footsteps."
M&T Bank Corp. Chairman and CEO Robert G. Wilmers, who served as best man at Lipsey's wedding, arrived in Buffalo around the same time as Lipsey and the two struck up a friendship. Both men grew to adore their adopted city.
"He never gave up his love for Omaha steaks," Wilmers said of Lipsey, "but he fully developed the taste for wings."
Lipsey's 29-year stewardship of The News was more vital to Western New York than any one specific project, Wilmers said.
"A strong, local, independent newspaper is vital to a civic culture -- explaining issues, exposing wrongs and highlighting heroes," he said. "He made sure The News devoted unflinching attention to the crucial matter of the quality of our public schools."
Wilmers teamed with Lipsey in buying four smaller New England newspapers last spring.
"He joined as a friend, to be sure, but even more for himself, because he was deep in his heart a newspaper man," Wilmers said.
Margaret M. Sullivan, who Lipsey named in 1999 as The News’ first woman editor, began her tribute with an amusing example of Lipsey's willingness to freely immerse himself in the community fabric.
In 1992 at age 65, Lipsey, in a leather Bomber jacket and blue jeans, stopped by the Continental nightclub on Franklin Street where two industrial bands -- Pigface and Skinny Puppy -- were performing. The News was a sponsor, with proceeds going to its News Neediest Fund.
"Before the end of the night, Stan had befriended the long-haired, beer-drinking, industrial-punk-loving crowd to the point where they carried him, hand to hand, his body horizontal over their heads and delivered him to the stage," Sullivan said.
Finally, Howard Zemsky, managing partner of Larkin Development Group and president and CEO of Empire State Development, read aloud a letter from New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who called Lipsey "an incomparable advocate for Buffalo's resurgence."
Lipsey often humbly described himself as "just a kid from Omaha," said Zemsky, who went on to recount stories of Lipsey's hobbies including tennis, photography, architecture, philanthropy and others.
"It just doesn't end," Zemsky said. "All through his interests, he was a remarkable and amazing person."