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Sean Kirst

Sean Kirst, a columnist for The Buffalo News, is a recipient of the Ernie Pyle Award for human interest writing and the national Society of Professional Journalists award for excellence in column writing. Raised in Dunkirk, a graduate of SUNY Fredonia, the son and grandson of Buffalonians, he has been an Upstate journalist for more than 40 years.


Columns

Michael Whalen was getting ready to go to a Buffalo Sabres game Monday when his phone started buzzing. A friend and ally, Siobhan O'Connor, told him of an impending shakeup in the Diocese of Buffalo unlike anything this community had seen before. After more than a year of rejecting calls for his resignation, Bishop Richard Malone would take early retirement, a decision …

Buffalo

Sarah Ross guessed it was leukemia long before the doctors confirmed it. Five years ago, she had been feeling lousy in a way she had never experienced before. When a blood test came back with some indicators pointing to the disease, Ross stalled for a while before doing a follow-up. In her heart, she said, she already knew what was happening. Ross, who had worked for ye…

Amherst

After a lot of thought, Corrie Murray decided to take a chance. Her son Matt is 19 months away from graduating from Newfane High School. Like any student, he assumes that guarantees two more years of playing the varsity sports central to his teenage world. Yet if the rules stay as they are, his high school athletic career is over. Under state regulations, Matt, at 19, i…

Bills

At first, with so many moments from so many years blurring together, Pete Gogolak did not recall his game-winning kick in a Thanksgiving day victory over the San Diego Chargers that served as a critical pivot in the early history of the Buffalo Bills. It was only when he was reminded of his triumphant handspring that it all came back. "Oh, yes," said Gogolak, 77, now…

Columns

For years, Bob Merritt has looked forward to the annual YMCA Turkey Trot in Buffalo. At 62, he is one of the finest runners in his age group in Western New York, a guy who loves doing good-natured battle with close friends as devoted to running as he is. Merritt will be at the starting line again Thursday morning, amid celebrants in neon sweaters, turkey outfits or stra…

Erie County

A chance to offer formal comment on a statewide eligibility change sought by many parents, coaches and players involved with Unified high school sports teams is down to its final days. Unified basketball and bowling teams are varsity sports in which student-athletes with developmental disabilities play side-by-side with general education teammates. The initiative is …

Buffalo

It started for Greg Scoma in the same way as it did for generations of Western New York children. More than 50 years ago, he and his little brother, Jeffrey, ran downstairs on a Christmas morning to find a big rectangular gift beneath the tree, wrapping paper taped over a game that Scoma hardly guessed would become a central passion in his life. He was about to disco…

Buffalo

The Great Steel Strike of 1919, an historically important national labor action that was underway a century ago in greater Buffalo, will be the focus of a remembrance at 5 p.m. Wednesday at the Steel Plant Museum of Western New York, in the Heritage Discovery Center at 100 Lee St. During the walkout, thousands of steelworkers at local plants left their jobs as part of a…

Buffalo

Randall Goosby sat on the stairs Monday by the auditorium stage at the Buffalo International School, P.S. 45. As about 100 third-graders quietly filled a few rows of old wooden seats, Goosby made casual observations to children while they filed past, such as glancing at their feet and saying in admiration: Cool shoes. Whatever they were expecting, the chances are thi…

Art

Julian Chinana was surprised by the image. As both a teacher and photographer, he was on a veterans panel last Thursday at Niagara University’s Castellani Art Museum, where the panelists were all asked to explain a few photos involving their work that flashed behind them, on a screen. At first, Chinana's images stemmed from his artistic efforts, expressions both of pain…

Columns

This was not some casual exit. This was a force of nature. Jim Wells opened a back door Thursday for his class at the Bennett Park Montessori School 32 in Buffalo, and the children, hollering with joy, ran out into a sprawling recess area as if shot from a cannon. They were as happy in that instant as if they were at Disney World, because in a way what had just happened…

Columns

Debbi Hogan, still contemplating the fury of a storm from the night before, had just gotten to work early Friday in Niagara Falls, Ont., when a co-worker came through the door of their Niagara Parks Commission building. “I think the scow moved,” she said, words to trigger instant wonder in that city. By 8 a.m., Hogan and a friend and colleague, Carol McVey, had made …

Amherst

Rosemary Maloney-Hoffman is undeterred. She still believes in magic, even as the rest of Western New York is taking down the last soggy, windblown remnants of Halloween. Throughout her life, magic has transcended seasons. Certainly, it explains why Rosemary would join her parents in dressing up as clowns each year for Halloween while she was growing up in Cheektowaga. O…

Bisons and Baseball

Albion native Andre Kinder watched the seventh game of the World Series while packing boxes at his apartment near Rochester, preparing for a move to take a new job in Pittsburgh. Aaron Kent, a graduate of Lyndonville High School, picked up quick reports about the game while working a night shift as a sheriff's deputy in North Carolina. Nate Parrino, a state trooper b…

Buffalo

The commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard intends to be in Buffalo for Saturday's funeral Mass and burial of Lt. Thomas "Jimmy" Crotty, a World War II legend and a native of South Buffalo whose remains are expected to return this week to his hometown. Admiral Karl Schultz, the 26th commandant of the Coast Guard, plans to attend the services, Lt. Paul Rhynard confirmed Wedn…