Peter Kontolefa
April 28th, 1919 - August 15th, 2005

Beloved Husband, Parent, Brother and very much loved Papau



Peter worked 38 years for the NYC Transit Authority


He started as a
helper in the signal department,
and worked his way into
management, supervising
Hundreds of signal workers.













After retirement, Peter continued working on the NYC Subway system as a contractor for the various companies doing work on the subways. With his pension he actually started to do fairly well.

With a job working for electrical contractors, it was required that Peter join the Electrical Workers Union, the IBEW. He joined not as an electrician but an "ADM" (Associated Design Member) which was used for technical persons like draftsmen and technicians. The Union was a good deal, he got additional health and dental benefits over his coverage as a retiree.

When Peter got his Union Card, he seemed wistful, and he told us a story from his youth. After graduating high school he wanted to work in the electrical field either in radio or as an electrician, but it was the depths of the Great Depression. His mother worked as a domestic in several households after Peter's father died, and one of the households was of a well off family who's head was active in local Democratic Politics. Philanthe took care of the children, they called her "Yiaya" and was treated as one of the family. She asked a favor of the head of the household to made inquiries about the Electricians Union. He agreed effusively, and said he was sure something could be worked out. About a week later, Peter was called to his office (he remembers dressing in a suit and tie to meet his mother's employer.) The official was very somber, and told Peter that he had met with some guys he disdainfully (he was Irish American) called "Mafia Men". He said that if Peter could pay them $1500, he could get into the union and he strongly urged him to raise the money if he could. (Electricians were making $3.00/hr even during the depression.) In those days $1500 was a lot of money, so he never mentioned the offer to his mother or anybody else.

Growing up in the Depression, when work was so hard to find, working was very important to Peter. If his health would have allowed it he would have worked till the day he died. Cataracts, Arthritis and finally Parkinson's Disease forced him to first cut back on work and then his complete retirement.

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