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Peter P. Poth, giant of finance, found fame in his role in 'The Natural'

Feb. 12, 1929 – Sept. 7, 2017

Peter P. Poth

At 4 feet, 10 inches tall, Peter P. Poth may have been small in stature, but in Buffalo business circles, he was a giant.

He rose through the ranks of his tax firm to become managing partner, served as chief financial officer and president of Delaware North Cos. and was on boards of numerous civic institutions.

But it was his brief Hollywood career that Mr. Poth liked to tell people about.

It was the summer of 1983, when Mr. Poth heard about a casting call for a “short, pudgy male” – his words – to appear in a movie being filmed in Buffalo.

He auditioned and got the role to play the psychologist in the “The Natural” starring Robert Redford.

It was a locker room scene where Poth stood before the team to deliver a speech.

“Losing,” he told the team, “is a disease.”

Just a short time before his death last week, Poth met a couple of young people while eating in a bar in Lime Lake. He told them if they wanted to see him again to watch the movie.

“He had a fun time doing that,” said his wife, Marie, “he loved Robert Redford – and he was a great ham.”

Mr. Poth of Williamsville died Thursday at Kenmore Mercy Hospital. He was 88.

A native of South Buffalo, Mr. Poth attended St. Thomas Aquinas School, where he was president of its Class of 1942. He earned academic scholarships to St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute and later Canisius College, where he graduated Cum Laude in 1950.

Mr. Poth pursued a career in accounting. He received his certificate as a certified public accountant at 24 and in 1960 became a partner in the firm Graef, Cutting and Coit. When the firm merged with KPMG Peat Marwick, Mr. Poth rose to the rank of managing partner of the Buffalo office, a position he held for 14 years until his mandatory retirement in 1983.

Upon his retirement, Mr. Poth joined one of his long-time clients, Delaware North, as vice president and chief financial officer. He subsequently was named president.

He not only was a whiz with numbers and money, but negotiating contracts, his wife said. One time while trying to make a point to the owner, Jeremy Jacobs, Mr. Poth stood up on a chair to meet the eyes of his much taller boss.

He made his point.

“Yes he did,” his wife said. “He always did.”

Mr. Poth retired from Delaware North in 2006, while serving as vice chairman.

He was also active in many religious, civic and educational institutions.

Organizations where he served as a board member, director or treasurer include: the United Way, the Buffalo Museum of Science, the Buffalo Club, Studio Arena, the Amherst Sax Quartet and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Society. The philharmonic operated in the black during his term as president.

For 18 years, Mr. Poth also was involved with D’Youville College, where he chaired the president’s council, as well as the board of trustees. He chaired two fundraising drives at the college, including one to restore the Kavinoky Theatre.

Mr. Poth  helped raise funds for his alma mater, too, and Canisius bestowed several awards upon him, including one for outstanding alumni.

Mr. Poth loved to read and enjoyed classical music. He golfed a little bit and was a member of the Country Club of Buffalo.

Besides his wife of 26 years, the former Marie Orsolits, Mr. Poth is survived by a grandson, Luca, and daughter-in-law, Kristen.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Joseph University Parish, 3269 Main St.

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