Saturday, January 11, 2014

NY Legion Loses Acclaimed Leader

Richard Pedro
Richard Pedro
ALBANY -- The American Legion's Department of New York lost a nationally acclaimed leader Friday when World War II Navy veteran Richard M. Pedro of Owego, NY died fighting a final battle with illness. He was 87.

Mr. Pedro retired last July after serving at the helm of the Department of New York for nearly three decades as its adjutant, or executive director.

"Richard Pedro was the backbone of The American Legion, an icon, mentor and leader held in high esteem by the many who were privileged to have been the recipient of his tutorage," said Department Commander Kenneth Governor. "He set the standard to be emulated by Legionnaires and leaders everywhere. In fact, he was so well respected that at the 94th national convention in 2012, the delegates unanimously voted to bestow on him the honorary title of past national commander. He joined legendary New Yorkers Theodore Roosevelt Jr. and long-time U.S. Rep. Hamilton Fish in receiving the rare honor. Sandra and I and the entire Department of New York extend our most sincere condolences to Mrs. Jeanne Pedro and Family and pray that Past National Commander Dick will rest in peace."

Noted Department Adjutant James Casey: "The Greatest Generation has lost one of its greatest. It is with profound sadness that The American Legion Family mourns the passing of Past National Commander Richard M. Pedro. PNC Pedro has been called to that Great Spirit Navy whose footfalls cause no sound. His tenure as the Department of New York adjutant set the standard for adjutants across the nation. His legacy of lifelong service to The American Legion will continue to be an inspiration. I have lost a good friend and mentor and I will miss him dearly. Paulette and I and the Casey family will keep Jeanne and the Pedro family in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time."

When Mr. Pedro stepped down from his Department position last July, it wasn't the first time he retired. Before being appointed Department adjutant in July of 1984, he worked for IBM in manufacturing and engineering for 33 years.

Joining American Legion Post 401 in Tioga, NY soon after his discharge from service in 1947, Mr. Pedro became very active in the country's largest wartime veterans organization. He was elected to leadership positions on every level in the state -- post commander, county commander, district commander, and department commander. He went on to serve in a number of national roles, such as national executive committeeman, national security commission member, national commander's advisory committee (from 1978 to present), and national convention floor leader (1980 to present). He was awarded a life membership in 1964.

A native of Endicott, NY, Mr. Pedro graduated from Owego Free Academy in 1944 and then enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After being honorably discharged in 1947, he continued his education through the International Correspondence School of Engineering, Scranton, PA, from 1952 to 1954.

He was married to the former Jeanne Salata of Endicott. He also leaves a daughter, Debra Ann; a son, Richard J.M., and seven grandchildren.

His community affiliations included:
-- serving as a lector at St. Patrick's Church, Owego.
-- life member, Glenn A. Warner Post 1371, VFW, Owego.
-- life member, B.P.O.E. Lodge 1039, Owego.
-- Past president, Tioga County Christmas League, which provided toys to needy children.
-- member, Board of Visitors, NY State Veterans Home, Oxford, and past board president.


Funeral arrangements are by Estey, Munroe & Fahey Funeral Home, 15 Park Street, Owego, NY, with the wake taking place 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15. The American Legion Service is at 6:30 p.m.

Funeral Mass is at 10 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 16, at St. Patrick’s Church, 300 Main Street, Owego, NY.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to:
-- National Emergency Fund, The American Legion, P.O. Box 1055, Indianapolis, IN 46206, and/or
-- St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105.