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Sean Kirst

Sean Kirst is a columnist for The Buffalo News. Raised in Dunkirk, he has been an Upstate journalist for more than 40 years.


Buffalo

The way Fidele Menavanza saw it, he had one choice. About four years ago, he and his wife Liliane, a skilled seamstress, returned to their West Side home in Buffalo to discover someone had broken in and ransacked the place. Liliane's jewelry was gone, including some beloved heirlooms. The thieves had taken Fidele's laptop, which included research papers and family ph…

Buffalo

This week's wave of American reflection about the life and death of Robert F. Kennedy caused Patty Wolfangle to go to her jewelry box  in Colorado, where she gently picked up a tie clip in the shape of a World War II PT boat. For Patty and her husband Glenn, it is an intimate symbol of their wedding day in Buffalo, of a moment just after they said their vows when Kenned…

Columns

Teddy Braidich decided it was time to turn around. He was riding his ATV Wednesday along an isolated stretch of CSX railroad tracks in Sheridan, in northern Chautauqua County, responding to a plea for help passed along by his mother. A neighbor's toddler was lost in the woods, just west of Silver Creek, near railroad tracks used routinely by freight trains. A coalition …

Columns

Tyrel Reynolds, Nick Smith and Matthew Hardesty sat for a long time Monday night, talking at a kitchen table. Reynolds and Smith are married. They run Mazurek's Bakery in the Old First Ward, one of the oldest bakeries in Western New York, and Hardesty is both a close friend and the main baker in the place. The question they were pondering had deep potential consequence.…

Columns

Do you have vivid memories of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy in Western New York, or of the day he died? If so, share them with The Buffalo News by leaving a comment after this piece or emailing Sean Kirst at skirst@buffnews.com. We will publish a compilation later this week. It is often said that longterm memory is a place of both shadow and flashes of brilliant light. Fifty y…

Columns

A single dollar, taped to a classroom whiteboard at John F. Kennedy High School in Cheektowaga, quickly multiplied by 1,277 times. That money was donated toward the effort to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative neurological disease. Impressed, friends of Katie Mattison keep asking if she intends to do it again, if she will try and lead a simila…

Columns

Rose Stoklosa knew immediately. She took one look at the photograph in the newspaper, at the image of a magnolia blossoming alone in a vacant lot on Buffalo's East Side, and called her son, Ray. "That's grandma's tree," Rose told him. A few weeks ago, that magnolia was in full bloom on Rother Avenue, amid the tall grass of the empty lot. You could tell, by looking at…

Columns

Over the years, Jamie and Rosie Billquist became regular customers at Miller's Greenhouse. That little business, operated by an Amish family, sells vegetables and flowers to travelers passing through Chautauqua County. Jamie stopped in not long ago to buy some plants for the garden around his house. The greenhouse owner, recognizing him, asked if the Amish community cou…

Columns

The Rev. Robert Beiter is a cemetery person. Some people are and some people are not, he told me last week. That is a matter of intensely personal choice. He understands both perspectives. For his part, he finds peace in whatever time he can spend on his knees in the graveyard, trowel in his hand. I met Beiter by chance. He was at the old Buffalo Cemetery in Cheektow…

Columns

Lea Sobieraski and William Ortega both had compelling reasons for attending commencements Saturday in greater Buffalo. Sobieraski was in cap and gown for the Daemen College ceremony at Kleinhans Music Hall, earning a master's of science degree in leadership and innovation, another step in a journey of almost indescribable meaning. "The greatest part for me was walking d…

Columns

In an age of text messaging, of digital immediacy, Dallas Goreham had an old-school problem. The 11-year-old discovered a most unlikely note last Wednesday afternoon in a bottle on a beach in Nova Scotia, a note apparently written almost 18 years ago by a woman who turned out to be from Western New York. Yet it took a little while to figure out those origins. Dallas …

Columns

The Sunday afternoon book club has been meeting in Lockport for about 20 years. Longtime member Jane Wendel will host a gathering Sunday, a moment of gentle pride for a mother whose son Tim is a distinguished author. The members will crowd into her living room and talk about Tim's new book, a tale of both a Western New York medical triumph and a journey back to a hard plac…

Local News

Raised in Buffalo, a graduate of Hutchinson Technical Central High School, presiding Bishop Michael Curry of the Episcopal Church delivered a passionate sermon at Saturday's royal wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. His presence provided an authentic American voice and sensibility at the ceremonial nerve center of a monarchy. Curry quoted Dr. Martin Luther King J…

Columns

An old friend, Ed Griffin-Nolan, came through Buffalo the other day. Griffin-Nolan is a longtime writer and journalist in Syracuse, and he has taken off on a great adventure: Forty years after he hitchhiked cross-country with a friend, as an exercise in both writing and humanity, he is sticking out his thumb and going on the road again for a few weeks. He carries a sign…

Columns

John Phillips was in bed, flickering in and out of awareness, when his daughter Colleen brought him hard news on Mother's Day. She told Phillips, who was overwhelmed by illness, how his grandson, Ryan M. O'Neill, came home late Saturday to Colleen's house in South Buffalo. O'Neill, 27, stayed up for a while talking to his sister Angelina, before he went to bed. When …