A J Petras, better known as Al, died in Boston Jan. 1, 2019 of a massive heart attack.
Petras served two years as co-chair of the original organizing committee that brought Gay Games VII to Chicago in 2006. He moved back to Boston before the second bid successfully won the right to host the Gay Games that year. Formerly, he was a co-chair of the New England Committee of the Human Rights Campaign and a board member of Dignity/Boston.
Chicagoan Mona Noriega, who served as co-chair with Petras during the first Gay Games Chicago bid, said: "Al was generous in heart and skill. When we trying to launch the Gay Games bid, with no idea of how to adequately use technology, he magically and effortlessly made it happen. I will always remember him as a special and warm loving man, who showed up when he said he would, and gave much of himself. His gentle spirit will be missed, especially by those who were fortunate enough to have him in their lives."
Petras served on the board of several other community organizations. Most notably, he was a founder and principal organizer of Pride in Scholarship, one of the first scholarship programs to fund college students who have made a difference in the GLBT community. Al was the first openly gay Big Brother in Massachusetts, possibly the nation.
Petras recently retired as a senior vice president at Bank of America ( BofA ). For his last 11 years, he managed the technology relationship with their Chinese partner bank. This effort was noted by the Chinese government as a "model" for cooperation between Chinese and western financial institutions. He was also the team's business manager whose duties included material preparation, translation, legal review, travel, and logistics for the 30 to 50 senior leaders his team would annually bring to China.
Previously, he managed large-scale, high-risk projects for the bank. He was responsible for building the required infrastructure for the bank's new customer information system. It was brought on line in a single weekend having successfully converted tens of millions of customer and account records and then re-linking several dozen pre-existing applications to the new system. He also converted all of the legacy Latin America technology infrastructure to BofA standards, and did the same for legacy infrastructure of some of the banks acquired by BofA.
He was a prominent expert in electronic messaging having been a featured speaker at many large conferences. He served as the PC Week magazine business partner for e-mail for two years. He was among the first businesses to implement wireless eï¿½mail. Petras worked in the financial, public utility ( NStar ), printing ( RR Donnelly ), and insurance ( Prudential and John Hancock ) sectors. While at RR Donnelly, CIO magazine recognized him as one of the most successful Y2K transition managers.
His career provided him with work experiences in North and South America, Asia, and Europe.
Early in his career, Al served as a legislative aide as well as campaign field aide for two gubernatorial and one presidential campaigns. He was a contract production assistant for ABC Wide World of Sports.
Petras received his education at Boston University ( B.A. in English ) and Mercer County Community College ( A.A.S. in Visual Arts ). In 2016, he was one of three people and the sole alumnus awarded an Honorary Scarlet Key, which is given to alumni, faculty or staff who have made substantial contributions over their lifetime to student life at BU. At Mercer, he was elected president of the student government.
Recently, Petras volunteered as a docent and program coordinator at the Quincy Homestead ( a local National Historic Landmark ). He assist at Boston University. He conducted seminars for the U.S. State Department's Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship program ( Fulbright scholars from developing countries ), the Center for the Study of Asia, and the Center for Emerging Social Media.
His memorial service will be held Jan. 12 at 11 a.m. at Marsh Chapel, Boston University, 735 Commonwealth Ave. Boston. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Waltham House, Home for Little Wanderers.