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Mariano F. "Si" Saia, 77, who operated a residential contracting business on Buffalo's East Side for more than 45 years, died Friday (Feb. 9, 2001) in his Kenmore home after a long battle with prostate cancer.

Born in Buffalo, he graduated from Grover Cleveland High School in 1942.

He worked at Bell Aircraft before joining the Navy in 1944. Saia was trained as a radar operator and assigned to the destroyer Hayns-worth in the Pacific. In 1945, the ship came under Japanese kamikaze attack and was hit, resulted in a fire that severely burned Saia, who was awarded the Purple Heart.

In 1955, Saia started his own contracting business, Kalamazoo Heating -- which was later renamed Bel-Air Sales & Service -- on Grider Street. He operated the business until his death.

He also had owned the old York Hotel at Mohwak and Ellicott streets and the old Chesterfield restaurant and grill on Main near Utica streets.

Saia enjoyed fishing, camping, skiing and scuba diving. While diving in Lake Erie off the Canadian shore, he once found a large anchor dating to the War of 1812.

He enjoyed vacationing in Florida, and went on an annual golf outing to Myrtle Beach, S.C. Saia was a member of Bridgewater Country Club in Fort Erie, Ont.

Survivors include his wife of 51 years, the former Geraldine Washburn; a daughter, Lyn Telesco of Miami; two sons, Fred and Thomas, both of Buffalo; and five grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in St. John the Baptist Church, 1085 Englewood Ave., Town of Tonawanda. Burial with military honors will be in Forest Lawn.

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