March 16, 1949 – Jan. 19, 2017
Dr. Susan M. Persico, of Buffalo, a veterinarian who with her husband founded and operated the Central Park Animal Hospital, died Thursday in Kenmore Mercy Hospital after a short illness. She was 67.
Born in Buffalo, she was a graduate of Buffalo Seminary. A classically trained pianist, she enrolled at the University of Colorado as a music student, but came to realize that her true passion was for animals.
After graduating Phi Beta Kappa, she earned her veterinary degree from Colorado State University, where she was second in her class and met her husband. They returned to Buffalo and opened Central Park Animal Hospital in 1980.
Dr. Persico also did pro bono veterinary work for the Niagara County SPCA, was a member of its board of directors and played a leading role in revitalizing it and establishing it as a no-kill shelter. She also helped set up a cat isolation room at the shelter to prevent the spread of disease.
“The passing of Dr. Persico is a tremendous loss to not only the SPCA, but to the community,” said Amy Lewis, executive director of the Niagara County SPCA. “She was a selfless woman who helped not only animals, but people in need or those down on their luck. She had a larger than life personality that resulted in an incredible fondness for her by so many people whose lives she touched in some way or another.”
In addition to providing health care for animals, she worked to provide homes for abandoned pets.
“I’m very passionate about finding homes for animals, about raising the consciousness of people so they recognize that animals are spirits in furry bodies,” she told Buffalo News reporter Jane Kwiatkowski Radlich in 2014. “They’re sensitive, loyal and loving. We can’t throw them away. We can’t just turn them out on the streets like we do.”
In the early 1990s, she opened the Coda Restaurant on a corner opposite Kleinhans Music Hall, where she specialized in salads made with her homegrown herbs, and desserts. It closed in 2002.
She rehabilitated many homes on Buffalo’s Lower West Side, where she lived, and advocated for and provided affordable housing in the neighborhood.
She was a board member of the Friends of Vienna, a member of Opera Buffalo and a longtime supporter of the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the local public broadcasting stations.
She was a member of the Church of the Living Spirit.
Survivors include her husband of 40 years, Dr. F. Ed Latson; and a brother, John.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Trinity Episcopal Church, 371 Delaware Ave.