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Rare disease claimed a Buffalo legend

   After all of these months, we finally know what caused former Mayor Jimmy Griffin's death --
Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease, an extremely rare and always fatal disease, that kills its victims within just months.

   His family made the sad and shocking announcement Wednesday at a news conference at the Dent Neurologic Institute in Amherst.

   They chose Wednesday because it was International CJD Awareness Day. Maureen Tomczak, who acted as the family spokesperson, also took the opportunity to thank the public for its support in the six months since her father died. She choked up at times as she spoke.

   The family also e-mailed a letter to The Buffalo News addressed to the public, naming some of the people and institutions who had supported the family during the former mayor's last days, including everyone at the Father Baker Manor in Orchard Park, the City of Buffalo, Mayor Byron Brown, the Buffalo and Lackawanna Police Departments, the Erie County Sheriff's Office, The Buffalo Fire Department, the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne, the Rich family, Mike Buczkowski and the Buffalo Bisons and ECC President Jack Quinn.

   "Our father loved this community and you continue to show us why," the letter read.

   The family has started the Mayor James D. Griffin Fund for CJD Research at the Dent Neuroscience Research Center. For more information, go to

   -- Maki Becker


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