Aug. 21, 1942 – Aug. 4, 2018
Niagara Falls has many supporters, but no one combined passion and knowledge like Paul Gromosiak.
Mr. Gromosiak, who wrote 12 books about the city and the waterfall and never seemed to run out of ideas or enthusiasm, died Saturday in Schoellkopf Health Center after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 75.
"There was nobody who cared more about the city and the park, and knew more about it," said Angela P. Berti, regional State Parks spokeswoman and a friend of Mr. Gromosiak's. "He continued to educate us until his last days. He was giving programs at the Schoellkopf Nursing Home on the history of the park."
Some of Mr. Gromosiak's ideas have been adopted, such as a regional tourism shuttle or relocation of the Old Stone Chimney, the remnant of an 18th century fort, to a spot where it can be easily visited.
Other ideas, such as the construction of the Niagara Experience Center, which he envisioned as a major museum and educational venue, haven't happened – yet. But Mayor Paul A. Dyster said he has a meeting about it with state officials scheduled next week.
Mr. Gromosiak, who taught science at Niagara Falls High School from 1969 to 1989, advocated for the preservation of that building as the Niagara Arts and Cultural Center.
He was an early supporter of the idea of removing the Robert Moses Parkway along the Niagara River Gorge, which will happen in the next two years, and of saving the 19th century Custom House, which this year became the Underground Railroad Heritage Center.
Mr. Gromosiak also lobbied for the New York Power Authority to stop diverting water to its power plant for one day so people could see what the Falls was like in the days before hydroelectric production.
Another of his ideas was to turn off the lights at the falls on clear full-moon nights so people could see a "moonbow," a nighttime rainbow created by the moon shining through the mist of the cataracts.
Those two ideas have never been adopted, but Mr. Gromosiak never stopped writing – or dreaming.
"That was who Paul was. Paul was not afraid to be a dreamer, or to share his dreams with other people," said Thomas J. Yots, a former Niagara Falls city historian. "I know that sometimes he was disappointed that others not only did not embrace some of his dreams, some of them didn't respect some of his dreams, which I think was really a shame, because every one of Paul's dreams meant something good for the community."
Even in the nursing home, his typewriter and files were at hand.
"He was very, very frail, but his mind was clear," said Dyster, a close friend. "He was tired of people complaining that there was nothing to do in our region, so he was putting together a list of 60 fun things to do in Niagara Falls besides seeing the falls. We'll have to look and see if there's an unfinished manuscript someplace."
Many thought of Mr. Gromosiak as the Niagara Falls city historian, but he never held the title. He actually lived in the Town of Niagara, so the residency requirement for city officials disqualified him from receiving the appointment.
In 2015, Mr. Gromosiak was honored with a plaque on a stone in Heritage Park in Niagara Falls. The plaque was inscribed with a poem he had written.
"Going back to the 1990s, when we had the last of the big plant closures, he was one of the first people who believed that the tourism industry could be our industry. We take that for granted now, but that wasn't necessarily the majority position," Dyster said. "Paul said, "We have to find a new way to make a living.' "
Mr. Gromosiak was born in Niagara Falls and earned a chemistry degree from Niagara University. He worked at Kodak in Rochester before changing careers and becoming a teacher.
Survivors include a brother, Michael R., and several nephews, cousins and a niece.
Services will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Zajac Funeral Home, 319 24th St., Niagara Falls.