July 10, 1933 – Feb. 7, 2018
Alfred T. Caffiero, who co-founded Western New York Physical Therapy and lived with Lou Gehrig's disease for more than two decades, died Feb. 7 at his home in Williamsville, surrounded by his family. He was 84.
Born in Queens, Mr. Caffiero served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War from 1952 to 1956 before attending Ithaca College, where he studied physical therapy. After graduating in 1960, he moved to Western New York and began his career as a physical therapist, first at South Buffalo Mercy Hospital, then at St. Joseph's Hospital.
In 1979, he co-founded WNY Physical Therapy with Willis "Bill" Hahn, growing it into one of the biggest physical therapy practices in the region. He was also a clinical educator at the University at Buffalo and offered internships to aspiring physical therapists. In 2001, he and his friends established the Alfred T. Caffiero Foundation and annual golf classic tournament to provide scholarships to doctoral students in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions.
Mr. Caffiero volunteered for over 35 years raising money with the Muscular Dystrophy Association for research on ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Mr. Caffiero was diagnosed with ALS in 1995 but continued to practice physical therapy, teach and volunteer for many years.
In 2015, the UB Alumni Association awarded Mr. Caffiero the Community Leadership Award and in 2018, the MDA presented him with the Ronald Offhaus award for his volunteer work with Harvest of Hope, a benefit Mr. Carfierro founded in 2002 to raise money for ALS research.
Mr. Caffiero was a gifted storyteller who was always the life of the party, his family said. In his free time, Mr. Caffiero loved to ski, golf and play tennis. He was a member of the Lederhosen Ski Club and Lancaster Country Club until his health declined.
He is survived by his wife, the former Karen McDonald; his daughters, Elizabeth Smietana and Leanne Pressly; three grandchildren; and half-sisters Kassie and Kim.
A celebration of life is being planned for the spring.