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Peter Cornejo, co-founded Hector’s Hardware

March 12, 1921 – Sept. 22, 2015

Peter Cornejo, who owned and operated a Lackawanna food market and co-founded Hector’s Hardware, died Tuesday in his North Buffalo home after a brief illness. He was 94.

Born in Lackawanna, one of six children of Spanish immigrants, he delivered newspapers and took odd jobs during the Depression to help support the family. At 17, he left school temporarily to run his family’s grocery store.

He served in the Army during World War II. A radio hobbyist, he became communications chief for the 786th Tank Battalion under Gen. George Patton and took part in the Battle of the Bulge and the crossing of the Rhine at Remagen.

Returning from service, he married the former Aurora Mondelo, who helped him build the small food market into a thriving grocery and meat business, Pete’s Food Market, on Wilkes-Barre Avenue. They retired in 1970 and moved to North Buffalo.

Mr. Cornejo joined with his brother-in-law, Hector Chameli, and others to build the local chain of Hector’s Hardware stores. He and his wife also invested in real estate, acquiring local commercial properties and buildings that housed post offices in 14 states.

In retirement, he and his wife traveled extensively in Europe, Central and South America and the Caribbean, taking cruises and visiting family in Spain.

A supporter of wildlife conservation, he rescued and donated a young lion, Sam, to the Buffalo Zoo in 1970.

He was a member of the American Legion and was active in the Spanish Welfare Association in Lackawanna.

His wife of 63 years died in 2009. Survivors include two sons, Peter II and Robert; two daughters, Lynda and Cynthia Cornejo Fecher; four grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Holy Spirit Catholic Church, 85 Dakota St.

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