It is our sincere honor to announce Robert I. Praties as Scottish American of the Year. The award ceremony will take place Saturday, August 19th at the 33rd Annual Buffalo Niagara Scottish Festival.
Robert I. Praties was born in Edinburgh, Scotland on December 31, 1933 to Winifred and Robert T. Praties, a World War I veteran. Robert grew up in Lochgelly, Kingdom of Fife, with his two younger sisters, Celia and Sylvia.
In 1952, Robert immigrated to Toronto, Canada when he was just 17 years old and remained for one year. He then traveled to Buffalo, New York where he stayed with friends of his mothers, Jeannie and Yanik Poprocki. In 1954, Robert joined the Gordon Highlanders as a snare drummer along with Jack Strickland, Joe Bevington, Sr. and Joe Bevington, Jr.
A short time later, Robert was drafted in the United States Army where he played with the United States 81st Army Band as a drummer. After being honorably discharged, Robert returned to Buffalo to form the Caledonian Pipe Band in 1958.
Robert played with the Caledonian for 50 years. He started out playing the tenor drum, then switched to the bagpipes in the 1970’s. He purchased his very first set of pipes, alongside friend and fellow Scotsman, Robert Calder, for a mere $125. Robert proudly served the Caledonian as band manager for 40 of those 50 years.
A few years after forming the band, Robert met a beautiful Scottish girl named Mai Taylor during a trip back home to Scotland. Smitten with Robert, the two were married on July 28, 1962 and settled on the west side of Buffalo, before moving to Riverside where Robert still resides today. On November 5, 1963, the happy couple welcomed a baby girl, Heather. Shortly after came Robert G. and in 1970, Jennifer their youngest was born. Heather and Jennifer would follow in their mother’s footsteps and took Scottish country dancing, while Robert still plays pipes to this day with the McKenzie Highlanders.
To support his family, Robert worked at Worthington Pump in South Buffalo for over 30 years. Him and Mai also found time to take part in the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society, where they were original members. The pair were also active in a local Robbie Burns Club for many years. The Praties’s enjoyed parties, picnics, and dances with band friends over the years – friends who became family.
In 2005, Robert, Mai, Heather and Robert G. traveled with the Caledonian Pipe Band to Scotland to compete in a pipe competition. The band finished 4th in grade 4. Piping has allowed Robert to play throughout New York state, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, Canada, and Scotland.
More recently, Robert played with the Erie County Sherriff’s Band for two years. He also remains a loyal member of both the Masonic Order and the Royal Order of Scotland.
Today, Robert plays with the Greater Buffalo Firefighters Pipes and Drums as an original member, and served as pipe sergeant for a time, as well. He was given the distinction of wearing the Fife Fire and Rescue Service badge and shoulder patch on his GBFPD uniform, all of which he wears proudly.
Robert serves another very important role, that is “Papa” to his grandkids Nicole, Lindsay, Owen and Amanda. He is an active member of the pipe band, still marching in parades across Western New York and beyond. Heather, her husband, Lorne, Robert, Jennifer, her husband Cory, and the grandchildren enjoy cheering him on year after year.
Robert is a proud, but humble, father, grandfather, husband to his late wife, friend, band member, and Scotsman. He is incredibly appreciative of this award and recognition.