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Services will be held Saturday for Cattaraugus County Legislator Benjamin J. Calabro, who died suddenly Wednesday.

Calabro, 77, of Monroe Street, was pronounced dead after being admitted to Olean General Hospital on Wednesday evening. He was stricken in the parking lot of the County Center as he left after several hours of legislative meetings.

He had had a heart bypass operation nearly a decade ago and was active in a cardiac rehabilitation program at the hospital.

Calabro was active in county politics for more than 40 years and served as Salamanca city Democratic chairman for many years. He was elected as a county legislator in 1977, representing the City of Salamanca and adjoining towns. He lost a bid for re-election in 1995 but won another four-year term in 1999.

"We will miss him a great deal," said Sen. Patricia K. McGee, R-Franklinville, who served as a county legislator with Calabro for many years. "He was a fine colleague and a gentleman who worked to get the best for his people."

Former County Legislature Chairman James J. Snyder, R-Olean, said: "I will miss my friend Benny. He was an honorable representative of the city and dearly loved, a quiet but effective member of the Legislature."

"Benny will be missed," said County Democratic Chairman Richard Stevenson. "He was great for our party."

Calabro, a native of Salamanca, served in the Navy during World War II. Once back in Salamanca, he joined his family to operate Central Lanes & Crist Restaurant, which is now the city's only bowling alley.

He was active in many veterans and civic organizations in the city, including the Salamanca Area Chamber of Commerce, where he completed a three-year term as president in December.

He enjoyed all kinds of sports, but baseball was his favorite. In his younger days, he was an enthuiastic softball player along with his lifelong friend Paul Owens, another Salamanca boy who went on to manage the Philadelphia Phillies. Calabro organized the Babe Ruth Baseball League in Cattaraugus County and was an active bowler all his life.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday in St. Patrick's Catholic Church, 111 River St. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery.

Surviving are his wife of 50 years, Melina Pietropaolo Calabro; a son, Michael of Olean; and two granddaughters.

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