Benefit Set For Capt. Robertson

FALCONER — Friends of Capt. Jim Robertson will hold a benefit on his behalf Sunday, from noon-6 p.m. at the Falconer Moose Club, located at 11 South Dow St.

The event will offer a chicken barbecue by Brothers by Choice, ribs and other tasty food items by the “Frewsburg Friends,” a Chinese auction, live music with five bands, raffles and other fun activities. Bands are “Been Minute,” “Day Old Soup,” “Kate’s Brothers,” “Danny Shanahan,” and “Flossie & the Gunslingers.” After the bands perform, there will be an open jam session.

The benefit is to help defray the cost of medical bills and medication Robertson has been struggling with the last year-and-a-half. In December 2016, he fell on the ice before playing a gig and fractured his pelvis in two places. While in hospital, they found kidney cancer, so surgery and chemotherapy followed and treatment in Buffalo. With poor vision, he is legally blind and also has a bladder problem. He can no longer drive, his medications are costly and he has poor insurance coverage.

A resident of Jamestown, Robertson is a licensed ship captain who has piloted several well-known vessels on the waters of Lake Erie and Chautauqua Lake. Along with his good friend Joe Buffone, he brought the Griffith, a 53-foot steam yacht, down Lake Erie from the Barge Canal to Barcelona for Chautauqua Historic Vessels. For many years, he also piloted the Chautauqua Belle, out of Mayville, and the Stow Ferry that, until this year, ran across the narrows from Bemus Point to Stow.

“The ferry has crossed the narrows every year for more than 200 years,” he said. “I piloted the Chautauqua Belle and the Stow Ferry from 1992-98. It was a great job and I really enjoyed it but, sadly, the ferry has been taken out of service. It was the oldest and continuously operating ferry in North America.”

His sense of history, knowledge of the region and sense of humor have made him many friends and memories. Robertson said he has even married a few couples while piloting the “Belle.”

Along with his part-time piloting career, he worked in the warehouse at the Flickinger Company, a food wholesaler. He also had a wholesale business of his own.

Poor vision forced Robertson’s retirement from his job a few years back, but he’s continued with his second love, music.

He has played in area bands for years, including The Geezers who are spearheading the benefit.

Robertson said he co-hosted the “open jam” at the Bullfrog for about 20 years with Joel Matherly. In that process, they started a band called The Geezers that was composed of Matherly, rythym guitar and vocalist; Jeff Hill, lead guitar and vocalist; Clayton Hough, bass player and sound; Darrin Widmarck, drummer; and Robertson, rythym guitar and vocalist. He said the group has gotten back together and will be playing at the event.

“I’ve played at hundreds of benefits over the years, but never one for me,” he said.

According to organizer Jo Patterson, it was The Geezers’ idea to do a benefit or jamboree for Robertson and they enlisted the help of the “Frewsburg Friends.” Patterson said she is a member of the organized team of friends who choose to remain anonymous. She said they have been working together to put on benefits in the area, off and on, for about 10 years now.

“We are volunteers from diverse backgrounds who come together to help make these fundraisers successful,” she said. “It really does take a village or a city, town, hamlet, ‘burg, or whatever you care to call it, to make these one-day events into a successful fundraiser to help the person, family, congregation, or whomever is in need.”