Nicholas J. "Nick" Sambrotto, the head of security at Sattler's department store and a longtime employee of the City of Buffalo, died unexpectedly Feb. 2 in Naples (Fla.) Community Hospital while visiting family. He was 87.
He had been hospitalized recently because of complications from falls.
Mr. Sambrotto, who grew up in South Buffalo and lived there for most of his life, graduated from Hutchinson-Central High School.
During World War II, he served in the Army as a rifleman for about a year at Camp Gordon in Georgia.
From the early to mid-1950s, he moved seasonally to Dania Beach, Fla., where he opened a small hotel, the Dania Beach Hotel, which he ran for several years. When an unseasonable cold spell hit the area one winter, the hotel needed heaters. He ordered them from Buffalo.
Mr. Sambrotto got his start in security work at the former Houdaille Corp.
Later in the 1950s, he began work as the head of security at Sattler's, 998 Broadway. It was his security stint at Sattler's that family members say was a great source of pride in Mr. Sambrotto's career.
He often told stories of his adventures at 998 Broadway to his granddaughter. One of the most memorable stories involved a man who entered Sattler's pet store one night and opened each pet cage -- resulted in birds, cats and dogs roaming freely throughout the store.
"It was my grandfather's job to not only find each and every one of those animals and put them safely back in their cages, but to arrest the man who committed the act of releasing them," recalled Nicole Maurer, his granddaughter. "My grandfather, being the animal lover that he was, understood where this man was coming from and couldn't bring himself to arrest him, so the man was 'never found,' and as a result, couldn't be arrested."
Whenever Mr. Sambrotto played the lottery, he always used 998 -- the Sattler's address, she said.
During his security work, Ms. Maurer noted, he would always get the items back that were stolen, but if he "sensed a goodness about people, he would let them go."
In 1965, Mr. Sambrotto began work as a security guard for the city -- a job he worked until 1984. While working for the city, he was a night guard at the garage where the city's heavy highway equipment, plow trucks and salt were stored. He also was a member of Local 264, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Throughout his adult life, Mr. Sambrotto helped care for his mentally disabled sister, Anna Maria, while she was hospitalized and also assumed care of her for nearly 30 years before her death in 2000.
Survivors include a daughter, Roseann Maurer, and two brothers, George and Anthony.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 a.m. Friday in Our Lady of Victory Basilica, Ridge Road and South Park Avenue, Lackawanna.
-- Karen Robinson