“Do you know Larry Felser? You do know him? Wish I had a dollar for every time I got that question and answer over the years from friends and readers. They were almost always in awe when I said yes. Fact of the matter is, so was I. In the early ’70s, I basically learned to read from the words of Larry Felser (and Phil Ranallo). So as a fellow Canisius College alum, I was just about tongue-tied when I came to The News to interview him one day in 1984. Of course, my tape recorder went dead and Larry, bless his heart, put his hand on it without saying a word so I’d notice and change the batteries.
When I was a News intern in 1986, Larry told me I did a “fantastic job” covering the Empire State Games. I just about fell over. It made my summer. I got to follow him to a Bills preseason scrimmage in Edinboro, Pa., and listen to him spar with Hank Bullough, whom I learned he detested. It was awesome.
As time went on and I became a full-timer, Larry would call me to talk about his column ideas on my beats. Larry Felser would call me. That was crazy. I’d hang up and laugh. He’d often end the call with “Atta Babe” or “OK, Kid.” I was in my late 30s when Larry retired and he still called me Kid. Yep.
We will miss Larry but those of us who worked with him will never forget him, or the stories of the AFL, the trips to the library window to discuss how a Metro Bus could magically become a taxi on your expense account and the fabulous writing. Larry, you were so right. Dave Andreychuk may have scored 640 goals but he definitely skated like wood. Atta Babe.
– Mike Harrington
“I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who was such a thoroughly regular guy but who also had such a worldly collection of interests and experiences. I can’t count all the great stories he told over dinners about people like Cookie Gilchrist, John F. Kennedy, Vince Lombardi, Al Davis, Sonny Liston, Joe Namath and many, many others. Larry was a mensch.”
– Mark Gaughan
“We have 13 Western New York natives on the sports staff. Plus our late colleagues Jim Kelley, Tom Borrelli and Bob Summers. The Felz influenced and inspired us all. My middle school social studies teacher said the way to read the newspaper is to make sure we’re not at war then go straight to the sports section. To take it one step further, it was go straight to Larry.”
– Bob DiCesare
“Larry Felser helped start the All-Western New York teams while he was at the Courier-Express. He helped us put together the 50th anniversary football team we named in 2007. In my time at The News, there wasn’t much interaction between myself on the high school desk and our revered columnist. But when there was, he was always very encouraging – and that meant a lot."
– Keith McShea
“Larry may have been 30 years removed from covering high schools at the time, but whenever we spoke, he always asked about his old beat. His interest was genuine. Larry had a resume that none of us will ever touch, but he never forgot his roots.”
– Mary Jo Monnin
“When I was 10 years old and living in Elmira, I bought my first copy of The Sporting News. As a youngster who always had been fascinated by sportswriting, I quickly loved reading the stories of the best reporters from around the country. That included Larry Felser, who wrote a weekly column about the American Football League.
“I never could have imagined then that someday I’d live in Buffalo, go into journalism, have him as a guest on my talk show, and work side-by-side and later with Larry at events. He was always friendly and supportive toward me and everyone else he encountered, a lesson I took to heart. It’s good to remember that your childhood heroes not only can turn out to be better people that you imagined, but they also can end up as a friend.”
– Budd Bailey
“It’s a familiar Western New York story. Count me among the many who grew up reading Larry Felser in The Buffalo News. As a young sports reporter, I watched and learned from Larry. He was thoughtful and kind and fair. His opinionated days might rub you the wrong way, but it came from a place of experience and honesty. He taught me that reporting isn’t done at a desk. Reporting is done by going out to where the stories are happening, where people are talking and doing and living and working. Journalism wasn’t about production to Larry. It was about relationships. It was about people. It’s not just the lesson that touched my heart, but the gracious way in which Larry lived that every day in many ways.”
– Amy Moritz
“He made such a profound impact on me first as a person and second as a journalist. I used Larry as the model for how you should be in this business. A man’s man, a friend to so many. I always knew that Larry was in my corner and that he cared about me as a person and did everything he could to make you better. He would challenge you and advise you in ways that if you took that advice, you couldn’t miss.”
– Vic Carucci, senior editor at Clevelandbrowns.com and former Buffalo News reporter.