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Baltico S. Erias, Niagara hoop star, civic leader July 30, 1932 -- Jan. 25, 2007

NIAGARA FALLS -- Baltico S. Erias, a member of Niagara University's greatest basketball teams and of the university's Hall of Fame, died Thursday in Mount St. Mary's Hospital, Lewiston, after a brief illness. He was 74.

Mr. Erias, who was known as Bo, was born in New York City and graduated from Brooklyn High School of Automotive Trades, where he played basketball. He also played in numerous Catholic Youth Organization and Police Athletic League basketball tournaments and social club games.

At Niagara, Mr. Erias earned a bachelor's degree in economics and was a member of the 1950s Purple Eagles teams that included future National Basketball Association coaches Hubie Brown, Larry Costello and Frank Layden.

During those years, Niagara ranked as high as seventh in the national polls, its highest ranking ever, and once reached the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament.

Mr. Erias played basketball for the Army in the Far East Division on a team that won the Army championship in 1956.

After his discharge in 1957, he moved to Kansas City, Mo., where he played basketball in an industrial league.

Mr. Erias played briefly for the Minneapolis Lakers in the NBA.

After that, he moved to Niagara Falls, where he was a caseworker for Catholic Charities and later a sheriff's deputy in the Juvenile Aid Bureau.

Mr. Erias then became director of Niagara Community Action Program and a vice president and loan officer for M&T Bank, where he worked for 23 years.

He served a five-year term on the Niagara Falls Board of Education and was active in many local organizations.

He played in the MUNY Basketball League for sponsor Mickey Kaye and in 1998 was selected Man of the Year by the Niagara Falls Chamber of Commerce.

A longtime member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, Mr. Erias served as a Eucharistic minister and a past member of the parish council.

In addition to his wife of 51 years, the former Joan Ruggiero, survivors include four daughters Adrienne Hughes, Diana Aiga, Juanita Naughton and Mary Clare; four sons, David, Christopher, Andrew and Anthony; a brother, Adrian; and a sister, Linda McMahon.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Monday in Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 27th Street and Independence Avenue, following prayers at 10 in M.J. Colucci & Son Niagara Funeral Chapel, 2730 Military Road, Town of Niagara.


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