ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Flags flew at half staff and a small memorial has formed at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills Booster Club gathered for their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday night, but their normally happy affair was very somber. “We’re going to try and overcome this, but down deep we’re lost,” said Tom Nola, a booster trustee.
Ralph Wilson brought the Bills to Buffalo in 1959. Some of the booster members have been coming to the games almost from the start. Bills Booster President Richard Zolnowski’s only missed one game in the last 44 years. He said Ralph Wilson wrote him a letter on his 60th birthday. It’s something he’ll always cherish. “He took the time to write me a letter himself, in his own handwriting, and to talk to me and when I met him at the Quarterback Club he talked to me for a good five minutes even though there were people waiting in line. So he’s a down-to-earth guy,” said Zolnowski.
Nola was sad to hear of Wilson’s passing and is concerned what it will mean for the future of the Bills. “We don’t want to see this team move. We don’t know what’s going to happen with the transition time comes. It could be Toronto, it could be San Antonio, it could be any place, but we want it right here in Buffalo,” said Nola.
Season ticket holder Linda Weaver said it’s a sad time for Bills fans between Wilson’s death and Jim Kelly’s fight with cancer. “We’re going through a hard time with Jim and then losing Ralph like that all at once, it’s kind of crazy,” said Weaver.
At a quiet Ralph Wilson Stadium one light shines for the only owner the Bills have known. “We all enjoy the Bills, we all liked Ralph Wilson, we all knew he was old and it was going to happen eventually, when it happens it almost hits you like a member of the family because we’ve been involved so long with the Bills,” said Zolnowski.