Niagara Gazette — Aside from all the athletic accomplishments, there’s a personal family link that merits special mention. Beilein’s mother was the former Josephine Niland of Tonawanda whose relatives made the supreme sacrifice for their country in World War II. Two Niland brothers were killed during the Normandy invasion. Another was shot down in the Pacific and held prisoner. When the U.S. Army feared the loss of a fourth brother from the same family, he was pulled from a battlefield in France and sent home.
If all that sounds familiar, the Nilands’ story was said to inspire Steven Spielberg’s epic movie, “Saving Private Ryan,” which won five Oscars. While the film is fictionalized, it’s based on the Nilands and their heroic actions in combat.
The coach and his wife Kathleen have three sons, Patrick, Mark and Andrew, and a daughter Seana. A brother, Thomas A. Beilein, a former sheriff of Niagara County with 40 years in law enforcement, is now chairman of the New York State Commission of Correction. A nephew, Bill Beilein, is the head coach of the Niagara County Community College men’s basketball team.
One of the Beileins’ biggest boosters in Western New York is a cousin, Tom Niland of Youngstown, retired from the faculty at Columbia University. He’s also sort of family historian as a fifth generation of the Niland family and its outstanding service to the nation and to the Western New York sports community.
READY TO ROLL: Weather permitting, the Buffalo Touring Co. will resume its Segway sightseeing operations in early April. In case you’re no familiar, a Segway is an environmentally friendly vehicle with two wheels that can be self-balancing after a brief training session.
At present the tours start from the parking lot of the Buffalo History Center (the former Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society) and include a drive-by or short stops at several points of interest in North Buffalo (e.g. the mansions off Nottingham Terrace, Delaware Park and its zoo, and the Darwin-Martin House (1905), designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The tour company operators are excited about the prospects that could surface when the ambitious Buffalo waterfront development is completed. At present there’s obviously too much construction under way to even about operating any kind of tour in that area.