Terry Kazmierczak had a bittersweet feeling as she held her goodbye bouquet of red roses, took a congratulatory kiss on the cheek and listened to the soul singer she booked belt out the songs of the summer's last lunchtime concert Friday.
After 28 years of coordinating an eclectic lineup for M&T Bank's 43-year-old Plaza Event Series during the 12 work weeks of summer, she was ready to retire as the bank's vice president of corporate and community events.
She was looking forward to leaving at the end of this year, volunteering for Meals On Wheels and taking a January cruise to the Panama Canal. But it would be hard to leave this.
On Friday's sunny, breezy afternoon, people milled around eating cake that said, "Thank you Terry" and a crowd sat along the plaza's edge while children danced to Lance Diamond's music.
"In Buffalo, we are so rich in talent," Kazmierczak said. "Sometimes it's very difficult to even choose who is on that stage."
Word got around to local musicians that Friday's final season concert would mark the end of Kazmierczak's stewardship of the series and they came out to praise her.
"I love this lady," said Van Taylor, keyboard player and band leader of Taylor Made Jazz. "She has made such a difference to all genres of music ... jazz, rock, blues, she brought it here."
His band travels the world to entertain the troops, but Taylor clears his schedule to play the M&T gig. "I tell Washington, 'Hold up,'?" he said.
Performer David Kane of "Them Jazzbeards" also was in Friday's crowd.
Kazmierczak started hiring his seven-piece band, known for its "original, instrumental, soundtrack" music, about two decades ago, before it was well known.
"At that point, we were still pretty underground," he said. "Everyone looks forward to this gig every year."
Kazmierczak estimated Friday's crowd at about 300. But, she said, the sound of music travels down Main Street to even more people.
The impact of the concerts percolates and does good throughout the community, she said. To see groups of small children come to listen on day care center outings is particularly sweet.
"Some of the parents don't have the time, the means or the interest," she said, "but the kids are here."
On stage behind her, Diamond, in a patchwork suit of sky blue and white, sang "Don't stop thinking about tomorrow" with an ebullience that fit Kazmierczak's ambition for the season's end. "We try to make the last week as vibrant as the first week," she said.
When he finished, Diamond posed for pictures with his fans and explained why he was one of Kazmierczak's.
"She gave us all a chance to showcase ourselves," he said. "She's more appreciated than she will ever know."