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Buffalo's Best Husband 2014

The trouble with our second annual Buffalo’s Best Husband contest? With 128 very eligible nominees, only one could be named winner.

Choosing him wasn’t easy. The nominating essays that poured in this year were heartfelt, thoughtful and appreciative. It took us weeks to read, re-read and narrow down the entries, until 12 finalists were put to a final staff-wide vote.

Finally, the winner emerged.

This year’s Buffalo’s Best Husband is 59-year-old Dennis Bloom, a retired West Seneca police detective and husband to Antoinette for 35 years. Bloom is a reserved, dutiful and unassuming father of three and grandfather of three (with a fourth on the way). Antoinette never told him about the nomination or the essay she wrote; when we called to tell her that Dennis had won, he was in for quite a surprise.

The two runners-up were equally surprised. Husband “rookie” and first runner-up Matt Burns, 31, is a new dad and FedEx employee from North Buffalo. Since marrying wife Emily in 2011, he’s stepped up to the plate in all husbandly and dad-related ways.

East Amherst resident Chris Robinson, 50, is a marriage veteran, with 25 years under his belt. He’s a ceramic engineer at Unifrax who, despite traveling to China two weeks each month for work, still makes family a priority.

You can read the letters their wives wrote to nominate them here. We’ve also excerpted many more letters on the next few pages; with so many wonderful tributes to the husbands of WNY, we wanted to feature as many as we could. We hope you are as inspired and heartwarmed by this year’s entries as we were; we only wish we could publish every letter, so each “best husband” could get his due.

The Protector

The Protector | Buffalo's Best Husband 2014 | Buffalo MagazineDennis Bloom, 2014 Winner
West Seneca
Age 59
Married: 35 years
Submitted by wife Antoinette Bloom

Upon seeing the ad for Buffalo’s Best Husband, I stopped to think about my own husband — and would he be Buffalo’s best?

I remember being 16 and a babysitter for my special needs little sister. I begged my parents to let my new boyfriend come over for a little while. I was hoping to have a little snuggle time with him after I put my sister to sleep, but she ended up with the stomach flu and made a mess of the bed. As I looked at my boyfriend and thought he was going to bolt, he said, “You take care of your sister and I’ll clean up the bed.” This is the guy I’m going to marry, I thought.

So many of us have great husbands. Are they perfect? No one is perfect, but after 35 years of marriage, my husband still buys me flowers for no reason at all and in spite of my wrinkles, he still tells me that I’m the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen. He scrubs my sinks, knowing my arthritic hands can’t anymore. He calls my parents his parents, and still tells people that I had the hardest job, staying at home for awhile with our boys when he was the one who worked three jobs to put food on the table. He loves me in spite of my faults, and knows what I’m thinking even before I say it. He is my rock, my friend, my lover, my partner.

Recently we spent a few days watching our grandchildren. On the last night, we tucked them into bed and settled our exhausted selves on the sofa for a little “us” time, when our grandson came downstairs to tell us that his tummy hurts, and he got sick in bed. My husband looked at me and smiled and said, “You take care of him and I’ll clean up the bed.”

And that is why I have Buffalo’s best husband.

The New Dad

The New Dad | Buffalo's Best Husband 2014 | Buffalo MagazineMatthew Burns, First Runner-Up
North Buffalo
Age: 31
Married: 3 years
Submitted by wife Emily Burns

It’s a hard and somewhat embarrassing thing to admit, but with work and life and everything that comes in between, there’s one thing I could do so much better, and that’s communicate to him, and the world, what a wonderful partner he is to me each and every day.

My husband Matt is not only kind-hearted, incredibly family-oriented, loyal, patient, affectionate and the complete opposite of all my many shortcomings, but he is also an architect of sorts. Matt has helped build and expand upon the most important element of life, our family.

In mid-December of 2013, we welcomed our first child into the world, and with his arrival came many new responsibilities, stress, challenges and events that thankfully, we are able to experience together, as a team. As I’m sure any parent will recall, that very first month with a newborn is intense, exhausting and seemingly never-ending. Due to the extreme lack of sleep, I MAY have taken out many of my frustrations on my husband (and admittedly may continue to do so!) However, Matt took it all in stride and has consistently remained calm, collected and loving, and has transformed into an amazing parent. For that I am incredibly grateful.

From day one of our relationship, Matt has been the most supportive partner I can imagine. Anything I have asked of him, he has been there for me. From a shoulder to cry on, or a friend to laugh obnoxiously out loud with, to walking with our two wiener dogs and the Buffalo Dachshund Club in the downtown St. Patrick’s Day parade or volunteering with the Allentown Art Festival. From humoring my fondness for really bad reality TV, to tolerating my obsessive-compulsiveness to keep the house clean, my husband supports and loves me, and has been a constant in my life even when things feel as though they are moving too fast and out of control. He may not pick up his dirty socks off the floor when I ask him to, and lets his laundry pile up to unimaginable heights, but with all of the other things he does for me, I can overlook it. Well, I can at least try.

On the day we were married, Matt told me that he would make sure to tell me that he loves me each and every day. I can learn a thing or two from him, as he has never, not once, forgotten that vow. But even if I forget to do so, or get lost in everything else that life brings our way, I hope he knows and understands that I love him very much. I love him for all the things that he is, and will be, and thank him for making me a mother, the most incredible privilege of my life. And I am thankful that he will not only remember to tell that he loves me each and every day, and truly mean it, but he will tell our son the very same thing.

Superman

Superman | Buffalo's Best Husband 2014 | Buffalo MagazineChris Robinson, Second Runner-Up
East Amherst
Age 50
Married: 25 years
Submitted by wife Cindy Robinson

My husband, Chris Robinson, is the best “better half.” We met 28 years ago volunteering as coaches for NJ Special Olympics. I was there because my brother was an athlete. Chris was there because he enjoyed working with the special needs population. We married and had three beautiful children who are now adults. When our children were young, Chris supported me for six years while I went back to school, never once complaining about how time-consuming it was. He tutored me and took care of the kids while adjusting his work schedule. Thanks to him, I have a fulfilling job teaching special education. I couldn’t have done that without his support. He’s my rock.

This brings us to the present. Two years ago, my mother and handicapped brother needed more care and assistance. After mentioning this to Chris, he suggested they move in with us. No hesitation, no arguments, no issue. He believes family is family and you take care of your own. We were about to be empty nesters that year, but he did not care about that. Yes, we had plans, but to him this was more important. He loves my mother and brother as his own. He helped them move in, takes them to church and stores, cooks like he is an Iron Chef, and shaves and grooms my brother. He does this all while having to travel to China for work, two weeks each month. I don’t know many husbands who would step up like that. Chris continues to surprise me with cards, gifts and fun trips. Did I mention that he still dresses like Superman for Halloween? Yes, he does this to put a smile on my brother’s face. After 25 years of marriage, my husband truly is my superman!

The Best of the Rest

Henry Shaver, Sr.
“After eight years of marriage, we had two sons and his job as a welder ended when Westinghouse moved out of state. Other welding positions were hard to find and we were in a terrible bind. Henry told me he’d do anything that needed to be done to support us, and that he did. We could have tried to relocate but Henry knew how much my family meant to me and he showed me time and again over the years how much they also meant to him.” — Nancy Shaver

Gabby Madonia
“He shares his talents generously. He is an extraordinary father. He cooks breakfast every Sunday and used to have warm milk on the kids’ nightstands every morning until they were school age. He is the most selfless and thoughtful person I have ever met, as beautiful inside as he is on the outside. I still smile when he introduces me as his wife.” — Mary Madonia

Charles Fletch
“My stepfather’s name is Chuck and he is the greatest husband in the world to my mother, and the greatest father to me and my sisters. He works 60 to 80 hours a week not only supporting my mother, but also my two sisters and my sister’s three children, who he has let live with him since they have been through some rough times.” — Jodi Schosek

Dave Barton
“Perhaps my most cherished Dave Barton 'acts of kindness' occur in the morning as he leaves for work. He bends over, kisses me, says ‘I love you’ and then mentions something about my day – ‘have a nice lunch with your friends,’ ‘I hope your meeting goes well,’ ‘I’ll look forward to dinner tonight.’” — Sandy Barton

Larry Smaczniak
“He has always given me the freedom to be myself and loved me anyway. I feel that is the most precious gift a husband can give to his wife.” — Barb Smaczniak

Dale F. Suckow
“Worldly success and fame by which we most often measure our men are not his to claim. He has been a soldier, X-ray tech at Roswell, music teacher, choir director and volunteer singer; an ordinary man. Realizing he might become an extraordinary husband first occurred to me when I asked, ‘Why did you marry me?’ and he replied, ‘I thought we would be companionable in our old age.’” — Carol Suckow

Gary Giovino
“A good husband not only loves you, but loves who and what YOU love." – Sue Giovino

Matt Millanti
“With work and kids, it’s hard to find time for ourselves, but Matt makes an effort to be my husband and not just our kids’ father. With two young children, and the prospect of getting into the shower before 10 p.m. very slim, it’s nice to hear that you are beautiful even when you know he just might be fibbing.” — Alicia Millanti

John Mastandrea
“I can honestly say he is my best friend and the best husband in the world…he has been ill recently and he has done everything in his power to make sure I am taken care of if and when he dies. I have loved him since the day I received my first dozen roses and I will continue to love him all the days of my life.” — Jean Mastandrea

Benny LaMonte
“Benny has given me the gift of love, loyalty and companionship. He has taught me to be a better person. He has shown me how to love, how to forgive and how to accept. He has given so much to me in my life.” – Keeley LaMonte

Kenyon Alexander Riches
“Ken keeps me from wallowing in negative thoughts and puts up with my rantings over politics, ecology and the weather.” — Inge M. Riches

Herschel Gelber
“How many husbands are comfortable with a wife in the same profession (we are attorneys)…and continue to encourage their wives to reach as high as they can, without any ego involved? I dare guess not too many.” — Stephanie Gelber

Doug Castellano
“Doug goes garage saleing with me and to craft shows, just to carry my bags…” — Joan Castellano

Randy Owczarczak
“After having surgery, I had to endure six weeks of radiation treatments and my emotions were going in every different direction. Randy created three boxes and filled them with wrapped gifts. He labeled the boxes ‘Good Day,’ ‘Bad Day’ and ‘Really Bad Day.” Depending on what kind of day I was having, I got to pick a surprise from the box to brighten my day.” — Marilou Owczarczak

Rob Wheaton
“He makes me romantic CDs and will have it loaded into my car CD player, so as soon as I turn the key, it starts to play on the song he has selected.” — Lynn Wheaton

Ron Witt
“Ron has always cared for my daughter, Kayci, as if she were his own. I’ve never seen a stepparent have such a special bond with a stepchild. When Kayci was younger, he brought her to soccer and lacrosse practice and attended all her games. He even gave Kayci her first car and has helped pay for her college. He is so selfless, caring and generous.” — Holly Witt

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