May 14, 1928 – May 11, 2013

Pete Bonciani Cothran, a retired teacher of Spanish and health, and a decorated war veteran, died unexpectedly Saturday at his home in Amherst. He was 84.

Born in Rome, Pete Bonciani grew up in Florence. He was adopted at the end of World War II by Donald Cothran, a colonel in the U.S. Army, and his last name was changed to Cothran. They came to live in the United Sates in 1949.

He attended preparatory school in Arden, N.C., and later graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was an All-American athlete in soccer.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. His leadership skills were quickly recognized, and his service earned him the Korean Service Medal with three bronze service stars, as well as a United Nations Service Medal and a Merit Unit emblem.

Recognition for his military career continued throughout Mr. Cothran’s life, as he was awarded the Korean War Service Medal by the Republic of Korea in 2003. In 2008, he received the New York State Medal for Merit for his military career.

A longtime Clarence resident, Mr. Cothran lived in the Buffalo area for about 45 years, most recently moving to Amherst.

Mr. Cothran worked his entire career at Amherst Central High School, teaching Spanish and health for 22 years.

His efforts continue to be recognized in the form of the Peter Cothran Award, which has been given yearly since 2000, to students whose achievements in Spanish study are deemed outstanding.

Mr. Cothran’s wife of 16 years, Arlene Rose Battista, died in 1986. She taught in the Maryvale School District.

In retirement, Mr. Cothran remained a dedicated athlete, playing tennis and golf.

He is survived by a son, Pierluigi Cothran, with whom he traveled frequently to visit family in Italy.

A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Saturday in Amigone Funeral Home, 5200 Sheridan Drive at Hopkins Road, Amherst.