2015

Distinguished Alumni

Robert Brunner, Class of 1980

Bob Brunner was a standout athlete at Hamburg High School, earning a total of 9 varsity letters in basketball, baseball, football and track & field. Following high school and for more than 3 decades, Bob’s professional life has been centered in and around the hospitality industry On June 19, 1990, Bob opened J.P. Fitzgerald’s Restaurant, Irish Pub and Banquet Facility Little did he imagine that 25 years later to the day, June 19, 2015, family, patrons, employees and dignitaries, including the Deputy General Consulate of Ireland, would help him celebrate his long-running success. 

J.P. Fitzgerald’s has twice been named a Top Workplace by The Buffalo News, an honor made possible by loyal employees. J.P.’s has participated in 25 annual bus excursions to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Buffalo, as well as annual group trips to Ireland. In 2015, Bob was awarded the “Irish American of the Year” award which was presented at Coca Cola Field where Bob and his family threw out the first pitch. 

Taking an active role in supporting Hamburg and the Western New York community Bob was instrumental in establishing J.P.’s Foundation. The not-for-profit corporation’s mission is to better the community by promoting charitable, educational and cultural organizations and activities that assist and enhance the lives of people in Western New York. As President of the Board of Directors, Bob leads the organization in which the primary focus is raising much-needed funds for those in the community who face the daily challenges of autism. To date, the Foundation has distributed in excess of $350,000. These monies have helped establish the Autism Resource Center on Main Street in Hamburg which promotes autism awareness and provides support and service to adults and children, and their families, affected by autism. Brunner also serves on the Board of Directors of the Erie County Agricultural Society.