(Born November 14, 1924) -- It’s a good-sized coincidence: John Rigas has the same birthday as the man who succeeded him as the owner of the Buffalo Sabres, Tom Golisano. Rigas was born 17 years earlier.
Rigas was born in Wellsville and served in the Army in World War II. He attended R.P.I. in Troy, and took his first job in Emporium, Pennsylvania, for Sylvania. He then tried his luck by buying a movie theater and a cable television business as something of a sidelight.
Rigas and brother Guy aggressively expanded the cable TV business over the years. Adelphia eventually reached into 30 states and became one of the biggest such companies in the United States.
Along the way, Rigas purchased part and then all of the Buffalo Sabres. The dream was to create synergy between the two enterprises, and set up a major headquarters in downtown Buffalo. An entire region was hoping the plan would succeed.
Then everything crashed. Rigas was indicted for wire fraud, bank fraud and securities fraud. He was eventually sentenced to 15 years in prison.
--- Budd Bailey