Barry Lillis was inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2008 – certainly a no-brainer then and now. Best known for his 20 years at WGRZ, Barry was a beloved fixture in our living rooms as the funny, charming – evening weather man. Barry was host for the MDA telethon and the Kids Escaping Drugs Campaign. He left the air in 1994 – and left quite a legacy behind.
Three years ago, Barry was diagnosed with cancer, but – we are thrilled to report that Barry is now cancer free. We talked with him about his treatments, his faith – and the Blizzard of 77. He also told us what makes him “Totally Buffalo.”
Q: How are you doing? Are you still in treatment for your cancer?
A: I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer February 2014 (in the Throat and Neck). I went thru 7 weeks, daily, 7AM Radiation and Chemo. Lost my voice for 2 months (Radiation can be very hard on the body) Also had the PEG (feeding tube-drilled a hole into the stomach and had a Similac liquid poured in it for 6 months. ) I now am on my 4th Petscan and Cancer Free Still.
Q: Does your faith help you get through these tough times?
A: When I was diagnosed I said…”God, Thy Will Be Done”….knowing no matter what – I would be “taken care of”, so yes, my Faith was the Spiritual
Q: Are you still counseling folks battling drug and alcohol abuse?
A: I do Spirituality Classes for the 9th floor Patients (Rehab/Detox) for 23 years now along with being a Chaplain at ECMC.
Q: What do you feel we can do to address the current epidemic in WNY and around the country.
A: I take my “piece of that” and have to leave it at that. (I have never gotten anyone Sober…But have walked with thousands on THEIR journey.
Q: You’re still performing weddings – what does it mean to you to share the most important day for these folks?
A: Yes, Weddings..We started the Falls Wedding Chapel 23 years ago..and have done over 10,000. It is a “Happy Day” and I can be blessed being part of it.
Q: Do you miss doing the weather on the news?
A: No I don’t miss it, but am very grateful for the 35 years I was in television (and radio) doing the weather?
Q: Do people still come up to and say, “Barry said it would be like this.”
A: Yes, they still ask occasionally “Did Barry say it would be like this?”
Q: Tell us a favorite story from your time at Channel Two? Please, come on. A good one.
A: The Blizzard of 77. 3 days at the TV Station, driving ban. So a guy called me to go to lunch? I told him about the driving ban. He said “Just get ready”. He picked me up IN A DOG SLED as in the North Pole style. We went down Delaware Avenue (Over buried cars) and did lunch. Also people were angry experiencing Cabin Fever. They were calling me up “angrily”. I was still fairly new and one guy was screaming at me on the phone..,
“WE NEVER HAD WEATHER LIKE THIS BEFORE YOU GOT HERE”!!!!!!
Q: What makes you “Totally Buffalo”?
A: Buffalo is a like looking in the mirror and seeing myself. It is Rusty and Rickity, sometimes in desperate need of Lovin. But turn the mirror a little and see the many sites of beauty and history that cannot be seen anywhere else in the World. It is the Happy and the Sad…Yes, a reflection of me.
A note of thanks to Barry for taking the time to talk with us. What a special man – sending loads of positive vibes for continued good health!
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