Joseph F. Saeli Sr., a retired salesman who supervised prisoners of war during his teens, died Saturday at Weinberg Campus, Getzville, after a long illness. He was 86.
Born in Fredonia, he was raised in Angola and graduated from Angola High School.
During World War II, he worked for Bison Canning Co., where he supervised German POWs.
"He was a high school kid supervising POWs," said one of his sons, Joseph Jr. "He said they were very happy. They were treated better in the U.S. as prisoners than in Germany in the army."
Mr. Saeli joined the Navy in 1944 and was stationed in Norfolk, Va., as a pharmacist mate. After leaving the Navy, he graduated from the University of Buffalo.
He worked at Bethlehem Steel during his college years and sold office equipment and supplies for Hoelscher's Inc. during the 1950s and early '60s.
He was the owner of the Lakeshore Motors car dealership in Angola during most of the 1960s and retired in the 1990s from Payment Plans in Amherst, where he worked for years assisting car and mobile home dealers across the state in setting up financing programs.
Mr. Saeli was a founding father and active parishioner of St. Gregory the Great Catholic Church in Amherst. He also was a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.
He was an avid hunter, fisherman and gardener.
His first wife, Elizabeth Hoelscher Saeli, died in 1984.
Surviving are his wife of 27 years, the former Joann Beecher Kirwan; three sons, Joseph Jr., Paul and Tom; four daughters, Beth Krieter, Melissa Schaefer, Meg Getty and Claire May; a stepson, Rob Kirwan; and a stepdaughter, Mary Kay Belotta.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9 a.m. Wednesday in St. Gregory the Great Church, 200 St. Gregory Court at Maple Road in Amherst.