A memorial Mass will be held Wednesday for former Pittsburg Mayor Alfred Affinito, who remained a strong advocate for the city he helped govern during the 1960s long after he left the council.
Affinito, 84, died of cancer at his Pittsburg home on Nov. 17.
He served on the City Council from 1964 to 1971, including a stint as mayor in 1966, then resigned from the council to serve as city attorney from 1971 to 1976 before going on to found the Delta Pacific Bank in 1979.
A 1946 graduate of Pittsburg High School, Affinito earned a law degree from the University of San Francisco in 1953. He served in the Navy for three years as an attorney before returning to Pittsburg to practice law.
From 2007 to 2009, Affinito also served as the national president of Order Sons of Italy, a 600,000-member organization that promotes Italian culture, and was a founding member of the National Italian-American Bar Association. At the time of his death, he was the president of the Sons of Italy Pittsburg Lodge 1976.
"There are things that he loved in his life -- No. 1 was his family, No. 2 was his town," said longtime friend Zelda Belleci-LeFrak, whose late husband, Jerry Belleci, was Affinito's law partner for many years.
Long after he was out of office, Affinito would continue to attend City Council meetings.
"He was almost 80 and still going to City Council meetings. He loved this town," Belleci-LeFrak said.
While serving on the City Council, Affinito helped Pittsburg participate in President Lyndon B. Johnson's Model Cities Program. The program contributed $25 million to update city ordinances, archive city records and improve police and fire code enforcement for housing.
"He was a long-standing fixture in local politics and the local community for a long time. He has been a very active and outspoken advocate for Pittsburg," said Joe Canciamilla, a former state Assemblyman who served on the Pittsburg council in the 1990s.
Born in the Bronx, N.Y., in 1928, Affinito arrived in Pittsburg when he was 5 years old when his family started the West End Market.
"When he was in high school during World War II, he would get up early in the morning and drive to the Oakland produce market in the family truck and pick up vegetables for the family market, and then go to school all day," Belleci-LeFrak recalled.
Affinito loved to celebrate the Italian heritage he shared with Pittsburg, which can trace its early roots to being an Italian fishing village. He loved Italian food, cooking meals while entertaining at his home and at lodge meetings, friends recalled.
"He had a pizza oven in his kitchen," Belleci-LeFrak said.
Rosemarie DiMaggio, curator of the Pittsburg Historical Society, worked with Affinito at the Pittsburg lodge of the Sons of Italy.
"He wanted to keep the Italian culture alive and well," she said. "He was a great cook. He cooked for the lodge. We always knew we were going to have a feast if he was doing the cooking. It was a great time when he had friends over at his home."
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.
Born: June 13, 1928, in Bronx, N.Y.
Died: Nov. 17 in Pittsburg
Survivors: Wife Janie Wegner Affinito and two children from a previous marriage and many nieces and nephews, among others.
A memorial Mass will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Most Holy Rosary Church, 1313 A St., Antioch. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Alfred A. Affinito Scholarship Fund, Western Foundation, Order Sons of Italy, 5051 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94112 or the American Cancer Society.