John T. Curtin's second family – the law clerks, judges and courthouse employees who worked alongside him for decades – gathered Thursday to say goodbye.
Inside a 9th floor downtown courtroom overlooking the community that Curtin loved, they told stories about a federal judge they remember as so much more than a jurist. To them, he was a runner, a reader, a gardener and a friend always eager to listen.
"He was a lover of good stories, good conversation and good friends," said U.S. District Judge David G. Larimer.
Curtin, who served as U.S. district judge for 48 years, died earlier this year. He was 95.
Among the lawyers and judges who worked with him, Curtin will always be remembered for a resume with no shortage of landmark court decisions. But on Thursday he was remembered, first and foremost, as a great man, an individual who dedicated his life to the kind of service President John F. Kennedy once demanded of his countrymen.
"They were the blueprint for how he lived his life every single day of his life," William C. Schoellkopf, one of Curtin's 33 law clerks, said of Kennedy's words about "what you can do for your country" and their impact on Curtin.
Curtin, who retired last year, left a legacy that included the desegregation of Buffalo's schools, as well as its police and fire departments, a move that ushered in a new generation of women and minority police officers and firefighters.