By Dale Anderson
Pedro “Pete” Salas, a retired counselor for the State Division for Youth who helped found an American Legion post, died June 16 in his home in Riverview, Fla., near Tampa, after a period of declining health. He was 71.
Born in Moca, in northwestern Puerto Rico, he came to Buffalo’s West Side in the early 1950s with his parents, who operated a grocery store on Niagara Street opposite the Shoreline Apartments. He was a 1968 graduate of Grover Cleveland High School.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 1972 from the University at Buffalo, where he was a member of PODER, the Latino student organization, and had a scholarship to study in Spain.
He met his wife, Ana Lopez, at a summer orientation session at UB. They were married in 1970.
Mr. Salas was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War, served as a specialist in Germany and returned to continue working as an academic counselor in the Equal Opportunity Program at UB.
He went on to be a supervisor at the Chevrolet plant on East Delavan Avenue and a die caster at Westinghouse before taking his position with the State Division for Youth. He retired in the late 1990s due to health problems and moved to Florida in 2002.
Also known as Pello, Mr. Salas was one of several Latino veterans who founded the Gabriel A. Rodriguez Post 1928, American Legion, and served as its first commander. He also was active as a longtime member of the Francis A. Lombardo Post 1031, American Legion.
An avid sports fan, he played in local Puerto Rican softball leagues and never missed a Buffalo Bills game.
In addition to his wife, a former legislative assistant for the Buffalo Common Council and Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority staffer, survivors include a daughter, Mariana “Mimi”; two sons, Pedro Jose “P.J.” and Michael; a brother, Arturo, a retired Buffalo police captain; and three grandchildren.