Niagara Gazette

Columns

May 4, 2013

LETTERS FROM THE ISLAND: Expressing our condolences

Niagara Gazette — Dear Mainland Readers – We’ve been spending way too much time in mortuaries recently, and sending out condolences. Larry Felser last weekend, then Andy Watkinson, neither particularly young, but both with a lot more to give.

Larry Felser. Doug always liked to joke that Larry Felser stole his job. Both applied at the Buffalo Evening News sports department at the same time. Larry got the job, Doug got hired, too, assigned to a task he knew nothing about. Actually, they’d recruited Larry pretty hard, from the Courier-Express. Ahhh, if only our professional sports teams could spot talent that well ...

While Larry was a sports department superstar, he was sincerely kind to Doug, who was shuffling papers on the night shift. We talked a lot about plays and books. He was a man of wide horizons. He could have done anything. Sports was fortunate for his having chosen that field.

He didn’t like baseball a lot, truth to tell, but the Bisons at the time were playing home games in Niagara Falls and Larry dutifully followed them. When the team moved, Larry gave Doug all his leftover bridge tokens.

The Courier’s Jim Baker, now retired in Boston, fiercely fought Larry for inside football. Competition was brutal and woe betide the poor doofus who got “scooped.” Yet such was Larry’s grace that Jim said on the phone the other day that he was “a wonderful man, and I miss him so much that I can hardly believe we’re having this conversation.”

Us, too. Godspeed. We’ve still got one of the tokens.

Andy Watkinson, gentle genius of finance, we knew mostly through Sharon Onevelo Watkinson of the Niagara University theater program. We visited a few times out of town and Doug remembers Andy enduring one of Doug’s rehearsals, the chore made bearable by the fact that Sharon was in the show, too, playing a role that could actually have been Andy himself.

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