Retired accountant always made ethics his top priority

March 2006

Alfonso Bellanca

Albert Einstein once said: “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.” Alfonso Bellanca ’42, has lived his 85 years in just that vein, whether as a young auditor for his father’s store or as a volunteer and supporter for numerous nonprofit organizations throughout his lifetime.

Although still too young to read, Bellanca showed an aptitude for accounting at age 3 when he mastered how to count money. He would accompany his father, a landlord for several homes in Buffalo, while collecting rents on the first Sunday of each month. From there his curiosity about money grew, and when he reached high school Bellanca asked his father if he could practice by auditing the books from the family’s furniture store. Bellanca remembers his father giving him permission, but only if he did it for free. But doing work pro bono didn’t last long: When his audit revealed the store’s own bookkeeper had stolen $5,000, Bellanca was paid for his auditing work from then on. During an audit of his aunt’s business, a flower shop, Bellanca also found that she had been bilked out of $10,000 by her bookkeeper.

When it came time to enter college, Bellanca narrowed down his career choices to three: a doctor, lawyer or accountant. Naturally he chose the latter. He chose to attend UB because of the prominent business program that was offered and it was close to home. 

His fondest memories were those of Norton Hall, where he would meet his future wife, Hilda. The two met at an Alpha Kappa Psi event, which at the time was UB’s premiere business fraternity. The couple married in 1943 and had three children including seven grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Bellanca enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve as a senior, the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. He served in the Navy for more than three years, with his last duty as commanding officer of a PCS (patrol craft sub-chaser). He separated as a full lieutenant.

Bellanca’s professional accounting career began at the Internal Revenue Service where he worked until 1950, at which time he became a partner in the accounting firm Reifer, Brock and Bellanca, CPAs.