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A final farewell

   As mourners filed into Our Lady of Victory Basilica to pay their last respects to a local political legend, many shared colorful tales about a man who had many faces.

   James D. Griffin: grain mill scooper, insurance agent, tavern owner, lawmaker and - of course - Buffalo's longest-tenured mayor.

   About 1,100 people paid their last respects to Griffin inside Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna.

   Friends and admirers remembered "Jimmy" as a man who was never shy about speaking his mind. He branded homosexuals "fruits," called Common Council members "goofs and loons" and once even suggested a federal judge didn't know if "he was on foot or horseback."

   Former Rep. Jack Quinn thinks Griffin's candor "perfectly fits" the region.

   Even longtime political foe Joseph Crangle, who waged many battles with Griffin when Crangle headed the Erie County Democratic Party, had good things to say about the former mayor as he arrived at the funeral. In reflecting on Griffin, Crangle told reporters, "We need more people like him."

   "He felt very strongly about things. You've got to give him a lot of credit for perservering. he certainly was a guy who wanted it his way or no way, and that's understandable in politics. He was a great credit to the community."

   What do you think? Has Griffin's death colored people's recollections of his 16 years in office?

  --- Brian Meyer

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