BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “I’m going to miss him — I really am,” declared James Pitts, former Buffalo Common Council president, friend of George Arthur’s.
The Queen City is mourning the loss of a legendary politician. Former Buffalo Common Council president George Arthur died Christmas morning at the age of 87.
Arthur is remembered for his political and community work and being a great friend and mentor.
“George was my big brother he was a brother that was a true believer,” remarked Pitts.
Pitts followed in Arthur's Ellicott District Council seat and later as council president.
Pitts called Arthur a “true friend” but a man who had a feisty political edge hidden by kindness.
“He was a fierce competitor — you would never know that — because he always had a kind demeanor,” reflected Pitts.
Arthur spent more than two decades on the common council. But even after retiring in 1995, Arthur never stopped contributing to the community.
He served on the Buffalo Fiscal Stability Authority even into 2020.
“One of a kind, brilliant and exceptional politician,” Pitts stated.
Arthur also helped to recreate the Colored Musicians Club on Broadway in Buffalo.
He shepherded restoration of the Nash House in the Michigan Street corridor.
Pitts said Arthur “loved” the Nash Museum.
“But it was also like walking into George’s mind — he knew everything,” Pitts recalled.
In 2017, Arthur's portrait was painted among the 28 here on the Buffalo’s Freedom Wall at Michigan Avenue and East Ferry Street for his contributions to equity and unity in the Queen City.
The legacy of George Arthur is being remembered by his good friend former Buffalo Common Council president James Pitts: “He was an extraordinary individual.” Our story tonight at 5:30 @WKBW pic.twitter.com/CKCmg9MtGK— eileen buckley (@eileenwkbw) December 28, 2020
Arthur played a role as a plaintiff in desegregating the Buffalo Public School District.
Buffalo Mayor Brown Brown said he was very sadden to learn of Arthur’s death.
“He was one of the most prominent government, political and civic leaders in this community for more than 50 years,” Brown told reporters Sunday.
The Mayor says Arthur was a mentor to him.
“My first job in government was working for George K. Arthur, and before that I was an intern in his office when he was council member-at-large,” noted Brown.
Mayor Brown called Arthur a “gentleman” who loved Buffalo with great passion.
Casimiro Rodriguez, president of the Hispanic Heritage Council of Western New York, sent a private Facebook message to 7 Eyewitness News stating Arthur was “an admired leader in our Hispanic Community.”
“I had the opportunity to sit with him on the former Buffalo Columbus Hospital board of directors,” Rodriguez wrote
“I don't care if it was south Buffalo, north Buffalo, the west side, the east side, George would always know somebody there," Pitts remembered.
Pitts had trouble holding back his emotions as he reflected on Arthur's legacy hoping new generations of Buffalo will see the path Arthur carved.
“He was extraordinary individual — extremely bright — he was my big brother, my mentor and I hated to see him go — I really did,” cried Pitts.