Lawrence B. Peita, 36, a broadcast journalist who formerly worked at WBEN Radio and at television stations in Tampa, Fla., and Watertown, died Friday at the Center for Hospice & Palliative Care in Cheektowaga after a lengthy struggle with brain cancer.
The Amherst native graduated from Amherst High School and studied at the University of Miami. He later majored in communications at Buffalo State College.
Shortly after his graduation, he landed a job as a television reporter in Watertown, where he covered stories ranging from criminal trials to personal finance issues. His favorite assignments involved capturing the human side of stories. One such touching report chronicled the challenges faced by a young disabled boy who yearned to ski.
Mr. Peita returned to Western New York in 2000 to become a news reporter at WBEN Radio. Listeners knew him as Ben Newman. His link to WBEN was forged three years earlier when he distinguished himself as an astute street reporting intern.
He later worked as a television reporter in Tampa.
A self-proclaimed sports fanatic, Mr. Peita played hockey several nights a week. He was scoring goals in a Florida league until his illness prompted him to return to Western New York in 2002.
His fiercely competitive spirit even carried over into board games. He rarely lost Monopoly marathons, and he put his journalistic skills to use by crafting high-scoring words in Scrabble games.
He was also involved in community theater, loved movies and enjoyed reading true crime books.
Survived include his father, Henry, and stepmother, Elaine P., both of Getzville; and a brother, Stuart M. of Amherst.
A graveside service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Sunday in Elmlawn Cemetery in the Town of Tonawanda.