The Legend of Pete

If you’ve never known a legend,
then you’ve never met my dad.

Part I

He grew up on the infamous southwest side of Chicago whose father used to run errands for Al Capone.

He finished fights that his over zealous friends used to start.

He unknowingly ate his own pet rabbit after his mom used it for a Ragรบ di Coniglio one night.

He set rushing records as a high school tailback.

He fixed up and raced hot rods and muscle cars.

He flew into some of the most dangerous hot zones for the Navy in Vietnam.

He surfed alongside Duke Kahanamoku in Honolulu when he worked on Waikiki Beach.

He took fish hooks, shotgun pellets, shovels, and probably more, to the head throughout his life.

He nearly missed his own wedding thanks to his father’s impromptu, night-before bachelor party.

He nearly died on a fishing trip after being submerged in the dangerously cold water of the Snake River.

He ran and sold a successful business that was a major piece in the supply chain for NASA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman, and more.

He bought, improved and sold numerous commercial, industrial and residential real estate projects.

These are a few of the pieces that make up just the first part of the Legend of Pete.

Peter La Barbera, also known as…

  • Pete
  • Big Pete
  • The Bear
  • Boss
  • Dad
  • Baba
  • Coach Pete
  • Uncle Pete

The man of many names intersecting the numerous chapters of the life he lived and the countless people he touched.

This man was my dad. This man was my hero.

[Not] only a dad but he gives his all,

To smooth the way for his children small,

Doing with courage stern and grim

The deeds that his father did for him.

This is the line that for him I pen:

[Not] only a dad, but the best of men.

Part II

The Legend of Pete that I have firsthand knowledge of is much different, and, in my opinion, even better than the legend prior.

He had the foresight to move to and start a family in what would become one of Southern California’s most desired neighborhoods.

He showed his three kids, my older sister, myself and my younger brother, what a happy, healthy marriage looked like.

He let his actions speak for the kind of man he was as he showed up consistently for us and other people.

He was firm, confident, and assertive so everyone always knew where he stood.

He was honest, even in times when the truth might’ve been difficult.

He had strong morals and values and made sure that those trickled down to his kids and grandkids.

He was a hard-working, accomplished entrepreneur who realized success while upholding his humble, modest nature.

He spared no expense when it involved delighting, surprising, motivating, or driving someone else.

He was overly generous with his time, his wisdom, and his money.

He was proud of what he built, who he raised, and how he helped others.

He firmly believed in and prioritized three main things above all else: God, Family, and Friends.

He was completely and utterly selfless.

He was truly one-of-a-kind.

Legacy is not leaving something for people. Itโ€™s leaving something in people.

Peter J LaBarbera

Part III

Peter La Barbera, my dad, and many things to many people, moved on from this world on July 19, 2020, at 73 years old.

Many people have said that “we lost him”, but he was never any one person’s to lose. I’m convinced that his purpose on this Earth was to positively affect as many people as possible. And, as it was with seemingly everything else in his life, he succeeded.

Some may think that 73 years of life is a blessing. However, to know that even one more year could’ve possibly put my dad in someone else’s life when they might have needed him most will always be hard to accept.

The world needs more Pete’s, but it only had one. God must have needed him more up there then he did down here.

I will never know a better man.

I will always strive to be the husband, father, brother, uncle, boss, mentor, friend, confidant, and superhero that was my dad.

He will never be forgotten. He will never be matched.

This is not the end of my dad’s legacy. It already lives on in each person that was lucky enough to know him.

And it will live on for many more lifetimes.

This is The Legend of Pete; a legend that will never die.

To be continued…

6 replies on “The Legend of Pete”

So well written Vinny. Your dad really was a legend and affected my life in a positive way.

Thank you, Andy. He always loved seeing you and would always ask about you and your parents. You gave him a good laugh / memory when you showed up at his door with your football helmet on.

Pete was and is still one of my best friends, only have a few. Very few men that I have met in my life with so many principals and integrity. We are great friends now for 33 years, heโ€™s always been a man of integrity!!! He would do anything for me and I would do anything for him. He was a great husband, father and grandfather. Iโ€™m going to miss our long conversations we had on the world. God Bless You Pete!!! God Bless Your Family!!!๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ™
George Sandoval

Thank you for sharing that, George. And thank you for being such a good friend to him for all these years. He definitely appreciated and respected you as well. You and your family are always a part of ours.

I remember your dad always had the best super bowl parties. When I started in industrial real estate in my 20s your dad had me to his factory and took 2 whole day and told me everything he had learned. Such a great guy.

Yes, he sure did. He loved having everyone over for those and setting up his gambling pool. And I definitely remember him telling me about you going over there. He used love to showing people around his building in Lynwood. He was so proud of what he built there. Thanks so much for sharing that, Scott. These stories and memories are priceless.

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