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Love of people enriched photographer's career

| Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Samuel Pelaia made everyone feel beautiful.

With his camera and his kind-hearted disposition, Mr. Pelaia knew how to elicit smiles from even the toughest subjects, his family said.

“He had a special gift,” said his daughter, Trina Basalyga of Pickerington, Ohio.

Samuel Pelaia of Economy, whose prints appeared in Time and Fortune magazines, died Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, in Villa St. Joseph nursing home in Baden. He was 80.

Mr. Pelaia was well-known in the community as a photography guru and mentor, his loved ones said.

“He really taught me how to pay attention to the details,” said John Homich of Economy, who bought Mr. Pelaia's photography business, Studio Baden, in 2007.

Mr. Pelaia, a Beaver Falls native, graduated from Rochester High School in 1949 and served in the Army during the Korean War. After an honorable discharge, he founded Studio Baden.

In more than 50 years of running the business, he became a well-known local photographer, snapping senior portraits, high school sports, weddings, club activities and more, said his daughter, Deonna Pringle of Economy.

“He was always there for the high school kids. … He always wanted to make sure they were on the right track and not getting into trouble,” Pringle said.

Mr. Pelaia co-founded the Triangle Institute of Professional Photography in Baden, a school for professional photographers, in 1966.

In addition to his daughters, Mr. Pelaia is survived by his wife, Louise Poulos Pelaia; a brother, Bruno Pelaia, of Ambridge; sisters, Stella Skeba, of Lower Burrell and Elizabeth Valente of Califon, N.J.; and four grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday in John Syka Funeral Home Inc., 833 Kennedy Drive, Ambridge. Prayers will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Monday, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in Our Lady of Peace Catholic Church, Conway.

Entombment will follow in Sylvania Hills Mausoleum, where members of the Beaver County Special Unit will provide full military honors at 11:15 a.m.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or

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