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Alumni life

Pride and Pierce-Arrows

Alumni gather for their biggest party in WNY history

Buffalo native Jim Sandoro Jr. with a vintage Pierce-Arrow, part of his world-class collection of automobiles and transportation memorabilia. Photo: Douglas Levere

By Lauren Newkirk Maynard

“I may live in Boston, but I try to get back to Buffalo as often as I can.”
Carol Gloff, UB Alumni Association President

The UB Alumni Association threw its largest local bash ever this past fall at the Pierce-Arrow Museum in downtown Buffalo. The vintage transportation museum—the lifelong dream-come-true of alumnus Jim Sandoro Jr. (BS ’71)—drew 800 Bulls through its doors on the evening of Sept. 12. Amid gleaming antique cars and motorcycles, alumni ate, drank and listened to high-powered speakers including UB President Satish K. Tripathi and new Athletics Director Danny White.

“My life is about UB,” Sandoro enthused after the event. He grew up on Pelham Drive adjoining the South Campus. “I was one of the ones living close by. This university meant a lot to a little guy growing up in North Buffalo.”

Sandoro, who opened the museum in 2001, studied history at UB and earned a business education degree. He spent the next 40 years building his auto empire and traveling the world as a business consultant. His dream of creating a museum dedicated to cars began with his very first restoration—a rusted Model T Ford he discovered in a garage off Michigan Avenue.

The Pierce-Arrow Museum now features a copper reproduction of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s only gas station design. Sandoro is gearing up for a second major expansion to turn the museum into a “mini-Smithsonian” that will include more than 15 buildings on the property.

“I like teaching people history, so this was a thrill,” said Sandoro of the alumni event. “We’re Buffalo through and through, and the letters we’ve gotten about this have been incredible.” He and his wife, Mary Ann, plan to donate the museum to the city to “leave a blueprint for future generations to follow.”

Alumni Association President Carol Gloff (BS ’75) emceed the party. Similarly enamored with her alma mater, she told guests, “I may live in Boston, but I try to get back to Buffalo as often as I can.” She said it was an honor to introduce the other speakers, who, in addition to Tripathi and White, included head football coach Jeff Quinn, baseball coach Ron Torgalski and women’s basketball coach Felisha Legette-Jack.

President Tripathi speaks to a packed house at the Pierce-Arrow Museum. Photo: Joe Cascio