Former American Legion leader and World War II veteran dies

By Perry Russom
By Suzanne Proulx

January 13, 2014 Updated Jan 14, 2014 at 12:33 AM EDT

Albany, NY (WBNG Binghamton) The American Legion lost a well known leader. Richard Pedro, of Owego, passed away Friday. He was 87. Pedro was a World War II veteran of the U.S. Navy.

"If you were active at all within the state organization, he knew you," said Frank Konopka of American Legion Post 1194.

The American Legion's Department of New York said Pedro retired last July.

"A stern man," said Bob Lloyd of American Legion Post 1645. "What he said was the truth."

He had lead the department 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 tutelage," 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 longtime U.S. Rep. Hamilton Fish in receiving the rare honor," Governor said. 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."

The current Department of New York Adjutant, James Casey said: "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."

Before he was appointed as Adjutant in 1984, he spent 33 years working for IBM in manufacturing and engineering.

"He was what we needed to look up to and we knew whatever he said, it was good and it was good for the Legion," said Barbara Beebe of American Legion Post 1700.

Pedro joined American Legion Post 401 in the town of Tioga after he was discharged from service in 1947 and became very active in the organization.

According to the department, Pedro was elected to leadership positions on every level in the state including, post commander, county commander, district commander, and department commander. Pedro went onto serving numerous national roles including 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.

Pedro was an Endicott native and graduated from Owego Free Academy in 1944 before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. After he was honorably discharged in 1947, Pedro attended the International Correspondence School of Engineering in Scranton.

Pedro was married to the former Jeanne Salata of Endicott and is survived by daughter, Debra Ann, son Richard J.M., and seven grandchildren.

The family will receive friends Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Estey, Munroe & Fahey Funeral home, 15 Park St., Owego.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Thursday at 10 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Church, 300 Main St., Owego. Burial will follow in the Parish cemetery with full military honors.

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