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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.


Buffalo

Friday marked 77 years since the attack on Pearl Harbor that began the United States' involvement in World War II. For a couple of days, I kept leaving messages at the home of Ed Stone, a 95-year-old Navy veteran who enlisted in Buffalo and survived as Japanese warplanes swept across the harbor. Stone has always been extraordinarily vital, a guy who still plays a drum s…

Buffalo

Joe Crozier’s memories were established over almost 90 years. A few, in mysterious ways, explode toward the surface. One tale is especially dominant, three words he shared last week, repeatedly, even as I shook his hand in his Amherst living room. Thank you, Sabres. “Oh, it was the greatest thing going, the greatest thing ever,” said Crozier, 89, who began to show…

Buffalo

The piece of art that put Ziarra Griffin on national television was drawn on a whim in the back seat of her mother's SUV. It happened a few weeks ago on a quiet Monday afternoon, just after the 11-year-old climbed off a First Student school bus stopped on Blaine Avenue in Buffalo. Ziarra is a sixth grader at Houghton Academy, a city school. She and her brother Zayden, 8…

Columns

Randy Putnam needed a blow torch. He is doing some masonry restoration on One Seneca Tower in downtown Buffalo, the building he still calls One Marine Midland Center in a giveaway of his deep Buffalo roots. Even before he arrived at the job early Thursday, on his slow ride through messy conditions from his East Concord home, his boss called to tell him: No sense in c…

Columns

Like many of us, Michael Gernatt was moved and impressed by the tale of Cristino Almonte, an 18-year-old high school senior from Buffalo who repeatedly rode his bicycle 19 miles through  November rain and darkness to try out for an Exceptional Seniors all-star soccer tournament in Elma. “It’s just amazing,” said Gernatt, a Gowanda High School graduate who is now head co…

Bills

Bill and Kathy Kita do not kid themselves. They know Jim Kelly, retired quarterback for the Buffalo Bills, has crossed the paths of countless Western New Yorkers since arriving here more than 30 years ago, and chances are slender that he remembers their family. Still, the Kitas were relieved to hear of the outcome of Kelly’s surgery last week, the latest phase of treatm…

Columns

Dozens of young people, lost in schoolwork or quiet conversation, barely looked up from their tables a few weeks ago as a knot of men and women wandered past, faces to the sunlight in the Erie Community College atrium. If the students did react, the guy they recognized was Dan Hocoy, ECC's president. Few noticed a white-haired woman who moved casually amid the crowd hur…

Theater

Mark Kotzin is a regular guy from Syracuse, a communications specialist with the Civil Service Employees Association. He is also a father whose teenage daughter, Molly, is studying at the University of Pittsburgh, loves Broadway and dreams of a career in the theater. A few weeks ago, Kotzin had to travel to Manhattan for a week, for his job. Kotzin had time to kill at n…

Buffalo

Francesca Morabito was among thousands of Buffalo Sabres fans pushing Tuesday into fierce and biting gusts that came straight off Lake Erie. The wind got a running start on Scott Street and was enough to stop a 5-year-old in her tracks. It seized little piles of snow and transformed them into crazy dancing twisters, and the only way to get beyond it was for the child to ho…

Buffalo

Tim Kronenwetter had plenty on his mind. For years, he has served as organizer and chairman of the Exceptional Seniors all-stars week at Sahlen's Sports Park in Elma, where many of the best high school soccer players in Western New York spend a couple of days trying out for a "senior game," played on a November Sunday. This year’s event was a few weeks ago, providing co…

Buffalo

A lot of high-profile people put a lot of effort into trying to create "viral tweets." There are corporations, entertainers and politicians who craft entire strategies around shaping tweets they hope will get a running digital start, and then take off. That is one way to do it. Another way is to send a tweet so authentic, unexpected and reaffirming that people around…

Columns

A couple of times a day, I find my way downstairs to the Grab & Go shop in the lobby of The Buffalo News, where the guy behind the counter sells me coffee and punches my card. At a spot where Lake Erie makes its presence known not far beyond the window, we often end up talking about the weather. In Buffalo, that inevitably leads toward comparisons, good or bad, with…

Buffalo

The red Ford Mustang, a gift from Andrew Sipowicz's parents, was the answer to a dream. In Orchard Park, Sipowicz was a standout pitcher on his high school baseball team. Not quite four years ago, when he was accepted by Canisius College, his dad promised he would help Sipowicz buy himself a car if his combination of scholarships covered a large enough portion of his tu…

Columns

Valerie and George Griffiths have had a dream since the early days of their marriage, in Niagara Falls. Decades ago, they moved closer to Valerie’s family in Paradise, Calif. They bought a little home on a ridge in the Sierra Nevada foothills, and their goal was a simple one, built over many years. Like many longtime married couples, they had things they hoped to do to …

Business

In all their years of marriage, Candace Bobik had never called her husband, a corrections officer, while he was on the job. She made that call with some hard news last Tuesday. When a colleague told Don Bobik who it was, he was afraid that someone the couple loved had died. In a way, he was right. His wife has worked for 32 years at the New Era Cap Co. plant in De…