Local and elected leaders offer statements on passing of Ralph Wilsonby jmaloni
Rep. Brian Higgins offered the following comments Tuesday afternoon: "Today, Western New York lost a champion. Ralph Wilson believed in Buffalo, invested here and remained committed to this community for his remarkable 55-year tenure as owner of the Buffalo Bills. In my encounters with him, it was clear he was a man who knew professional football and sincerely was in it for the love of the game. He was a generous supporter of the community and a World War II veteran. We are forever grateful (to) Mr. Wilson for his dedication to Western New York and our nation."
State Sen. Mark Grisanti said, "This is a sad, sad day for fans of the Buffalo Bills in particular, and of professional football in general. We have lost a great man. Thank you, Ralph, for your commitment to Western New York."
Congressman Chris Collins said, "The people of Buffalo and Western New York have lost a true gentleman and friend. While not a local resident, Ralph Wilson keenly understood what it meant to be a Western New Yorker and how much the team he built means to our community. It was my great honor as a member of Congress and as the former Erie County executive to work with him, and I am deeply saddened by his loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and the entire Buffalo Bills organization during this time."
Buffalo Sabres owners Terry and Kim Pegula added, "The entire Buffalo Sabres organization was saddened to learn of the passing of Ralph Wilson Jr. His contributions to the City of Buffalo over his 50-plus years of owning the Bills were immeasurable and his legacy in Western New York and the sports world will be long-lasting. With his passion for the game and never-ending loyalty to the great fans of Buffalo, he embodied what all owners in sports strive to be. On behalf of the Buffalo Sabres, we would like to offer heartfelt condolences to his wife, Mary, the Wilson family and everyone in the Buffalo Bills organization."
On Wednesday, Assemblyman John Ceretto added, "It is with a combination of sadness and admiration that we remember the life of Ralph Wilson. His contributions to Western New York go beyond bringing the Bills to Buffalo and extend to philanthropy and investment in our community.
"Ralph Wilson had a bold vision to bring football to Western New York, and followed through with it despite naysayers who thought it wasn't possible. As a result, Western New Yorkers have been treated to the excitement of the NFL, and have been inspired by athletes like Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed, Bruce Smith and Jim Kelly, who also needs our prayers right now.
"Ralph Wilson's determination to make his dream a reality is an inspiration to hard-working people everywhere. We mourn the loss of this great Western New Yorker."