Sad BFA News…the passing of Russell Pawlak

(courtesy Buffalo News)

Before I got involved with BFA or anything else in Broadway-Fillmore, I was snooping around the Central Terminal some years back…while I was snooping, Russell approached me and gave me a little impromptu tour fo the main concourse of the Terminal…it wasn’t hard to see the passion and love in his eyes he had for the place.

He helped put the Central Terminal back on the radar screen for all of Buffalo and WNY in a big way.

BFA’s thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends…  🙁

From the Buffalo News

Bookshelves surrounded Russell Pawlak this week in his Delaware Avenue apartment, reflecting his eclectic interests in literature, history, poetry, art and architecture. A photograph of Albert Camus peeked out, stacks of CDs overflowed on a table, and in the next room a framed print announced an exhibition on surrealism.

Mr. Pawlak’s life was enriched by knowledge, both the kind acquired through books and from a life lived deeply. That life came to an end Saturday from complications from cancer first diagnosed last fall. He was 59.

“The first thing I think about Russell is he’s the smartest guy I know,” said David Franczyk, a longtime friend and Common Council president. “He was a perfect recipient of knowledge for its own sake. But he wasn’t just a thinker, he was a doer.”

Mr. Pawlak, an avid preservationist who was married three times and had two children, played an instrumental role in resuscitating the Central Terminal train station. He also in recent years served on the Buffalo Preservation Board and the Broadway Market’s board of directors.

“My father had this larger-than-life personality, just a vivacious man whose personality made him seem so much bigger than his 5 feet, 4z inche 1/3 ,” said his daughter, Hadley Horrigan.

Mr. Pawlak worked 28 years as a field service supervisor at the New York State Insurance Fund.

“So many people look to their job to define their identity. He enjoyed his work and was anxious to go back to work, but [his identity] was as a volunteer in this community,” Mrs. Horrigan said.

Added Mr. Franczyk: “He was a bohemian in a sense, but one who had a job.”

Mr. Pawlak was born on Buffalo’s East Side in the St. John Kanty neighborhood, graduating from Bishop Ryan High School, where he played football and ran track. He played football as a running back at Culver- Stockton College in Canton, Mo., graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history.

[read full story—->]

[originally posted on BFA]

One thought on “Sad BFA News…the passing of Russell Pawlak

  1. To the family of Russell Pawlak,

    For several months now I’ve been thinking about someone I knew, respected and worked with many years ago (1988-1990) – Russell Pawlak. Back then he worked for the State Insurance Fund of NY, the company which Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home was insured by.

    He visited monthly for our Safety Meetings, and it was always quite an experience with him. He was vivacious, knowledgeable, always spoke his mind, and sometimes came across as rude, but I enjoyed his knowledge and hearing him talk about history, his travels, and how important it was to him that we reach out and help others.

    After I left NYC I lost contact with Russell… just recently for some unusual reason I’ve had him on my mind, so I started to look up my old phone numbers, called but no answer then I looked him up online, and came across this sad outcome.

    To his wife and children, my deepest condolence. After reading everything has been written about Russell and all he has been involved with, I am proud to have once known him as well. He was a great man, with a big heart. Someday soon I will go visit Central Station in tribute to him.

    RIP Russell…. from an old friend….Sylvia Donnelly

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