Dec. 10, 1921 – Jan. 8, 2013

For 56 years, when patrons bellied up to the bar at Daly’s Tavern in South Buffalo, they would look into the smiling Irish-American eyes of William “Bill” Daly, tavern owner, bartender and chief storyteller.

Mr. Daly was known for his stories of Buffalo in the days when selling liquor was illegal, his conservative views and his love of laughter, music, dancing, dogs, cats and good books.

But he was especially well-known for his longevity and his total devotion to his business.

“He kept on working seven days a week, right up to age 91,” said Thomas Kelly, a longtime friend and neighbor. “I don’t know of any bartender in Buffalo who was still working at that age.”

After a short illness, Mr. Daly died last Tuesday in Mercy Hospital.

His wife, Dorothy Bavelock Daly, who ran the business with him for decades, died in 1993.

According to Kelly, Daly’s Tavern, at 2324 Seneca St. near Cazenovia Park, was established by the Daly family in the late 1800s.

Dwight D. Eisenhower was America’s president when Mr. Daly bought Daly’s Tavern from his uncle – another William Daly – in 1956.

A small, relatively peaceful establishment, Daly’s was a popular stop for decades with South Buffalo politicians, cops, firefighters and blue-collar working men and women.

“He was my buddy … like a father figure to me,” said Buffalo Police Officer Ellen Taylor, who has worked in South Buffalo for 22 years. “He loved to joke with people, loved the ladies. His eyes were always sparkling. Walking into Bill’s bar was like walking into his living room.”

“Bill was there every single day,” Kelly recalled. “He’d open up in the afternoon and stay open until the last patron was ready to leave, usually around midnight. It was a friendly place. Bill had a lot of friends in South Buffalo, and they enjoyed sitting there with him, hearing his stories.”

For many years, the bar owner was also known for his love of music and dancing, Kelly said.

“If a woman walked into the bar and played a song on the jukebox, you could be sure Bill would get up and dance with her,” Kelly said.

A South Park High School graduate, Mr. Daly was remembered by friends at a Mass of Christian Burial on Friday in St. Teresa Catholic Church, not far from his bar.

After that, some of his friends stopped off at another local bar before making one more visit to Daly’s Tavern.

There, “we paid him one last tribute,” Kelly said.

The bar has not been open to the public since Mr. Daly’s death, and Kelly said he is not sure what is going to happen with the business.

Mr. Daly and his wife had no children.

– Dan Herbeck