Willie Kiernan

Willie Kiernan

unknown - July 10, 2013

The world has lost a brilliant, loving man. On July 10, 2013, Willie Kiernan passed away at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester. He died surrounded by his family, who will always remember him for the love in his heart, the wit in his words, the song in his voice and the magic in his hands when he strummed the guitar.
Willie was born to Santa Infante and Joe Kiernan on Nov. 17, 1956. He and his wife Terri made Cazenovia their home more than 20 years ago. He served as chef at Wheatberry, manager at Common Grounds and later Dave’s Diner and editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He was a prolific writer of songs, secret words, short stories and newspaper articles, and was working on a play and a collection of vignettes at the time of his passing. He is survived by Terri, his faithful wife of 31 years, four children: Jackson, Beezly, Mays and Siobhan, five siblings: Debbie, Joe, Trisha, Tommy and Paul, as well as all their spouses and children, and his loving in-laws.

Unanswered Prayer (a poem recently written by Willie)
I want to show you something that I have never seen.
And we’ll return together from where we’ve never been.
Hunger is the thirsty like lover is the child.
The church bell is the empty like the ringing is the wild.
Freezing, freezing, freezing,
like boots across the snow.
The prayer that isn’t answered doesn’t mean it isn’t so.
Paradise is purple like bruises on the grape,
like cabbage in the outfield, like tattoos on the ape.
Relentless are the bedbugs like a head behind a face.
Like memories forgotten, the flower knows its place.
Freezing, freezing, freezing,
like boots across the snow.
The prayer that isn’t answered doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

A memorial service will be held later in the summer.


ajanecaz 1 year, 5 months ago

I have such fond memories of sitting at Wheatberry trying to solve one of Willie's word puzzles so I could win that free cookie!


vdkcm5 1 year, 5 months ago

I am so, so sorry to hear of the passing of Willie Kiernan. Until recently I was writing a column in the Cazenovia Republican called "Honestly". I had never written before but Pierce Smith, the previous editor had read an "Ode to my mother" I wrote after she passed away, printed it and asked me to write a column weekly. I hesitated at first as Willie's column was always written with such depth and so beautifully and even though I was the fairy princess to his voice of doom we kind of looked forward to a ying and yang kind of thing. Even though I wouldn't and couldn't come close to what was inside his brain and then be able to put it on paper as well he magically quelled my fear as he called my writing "verbal stardust". After he read my first entry he so kindly found my email and sent me this note.


Greetings! I'm the guy on the same page as you and I'm wondering if that means more than I meant it to mean. Also a downstate transplant, I found your writing to be fresh, honest and dripping with full frontal optimism, which is fine enough, but your verbal stardust made it jump off the page.

Welcome, belatedly, to Caz, something like Woodstock or Roslyn. I stumbled on this place about 25 years ago and quickly discovered I could win and lose friends and influence uncles here just about as well or better than anywhere else.

With two kids out of college and two yet to get there, I'm a threadbare singer-songwriter on the acoustic guitar, but more than just a hippie - that would be like calling Tom Hanks a Bosom Buddy. Sure, I don't have his resume, but he doesn't have my kids.

Cazenovia has been good to us. I hope it works well for you. If life hasn't given me healthy, wealthy and wise, at least I got musical, comical and magical. Works for me.

Anyway, I am looking forward to meeting you someday. Maybe we could bump into each other and joust a few words over a cup of tea. If not, I'll be looking forward to your columns every week.

Until then... Peace, Willie Kiernan

I never did get to have that cup of tea with Willie, a thing I'll regret for the rest of my life as his kind word of encouragement and a small hint of admiration made a columnist out of me. His being helped me want to develop a new side of myself that I had no idea I possessed ...boy, we would have had some good he said, she said between us...he'll be sorely missed. Peace to you Willie - Valentina Heishman


Sign in to comment