A remarkable and touching story from Buffalo:
From the moment of their birth in Buffalo 92 years ago, twin brothers Julian and Adrian Riester rarely left each other’s side.
They played together, went to school together, as young men traveled cross-country together — and, in their 20s, joined the Franciscan order together.
And on Wednesday, after 65 years as identical twins wearing the identical brown robes of the Franciscans — mostly at St. Bonaventure University — Brother Julian Riester and Brother Adrian Riester died together at St. Anthony Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. Julian died Wednesday morning, followed by Adrian in the evening.
Those who knew the Riesters best say they are not surprised at all.
“If ever there is a confirmation that God favored them, this is it,” said their cousin and close friend Michael Riester of Buffalo. “They weren’t even separated for 12 hours.”
The biological brothers were also religious brothers, committed to the monastic life of Franciscan friars, not as priests but in roles as physical laborers.
During two stints at St. Bonaventure, from 1951 to 1956 and from 1973 to 2009, “the twins” were a common sight strolling in lockstep across campus — or, in later years after a few “incidents” resulted in loss of their driver’s licenses, on identical bicycles wearing identical helmets.
They became known as accomplished artisans who expressed their talents as gardeners and woodworkers, turning out tables and cabinets from their workshop in the garage of St. Bonaventure’s Franciscan Friary.
Yvonne Peace, former secretary to the university’s Franciscan community, remembers them as handymen and “fixers” who repaired all sorts of items brought to them by many on campus.
“They were always busy,” she said.
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them …