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Heritage Programs: Subcommittees: Cape Verdean Hall Of Fame 2006

hon. peter coelho
Hon. Peter J. Coelho

Peter Coelho was born in 1921 in East Providence where he lived his entire life. Peter enlisted and was a veteran of the Army Air Forces of WWII, working in an administrative capacity for the Tuskegee Airmen. After leaving the army, he became a painting contractor from 1946-1965 during which time he also became a special agent for the New York Life Insurance Company until retiring in 1968.

Peter joined with a group of Cape Verdean women who were in possession of land in East Providence, which was donated, to them for the purpose of erecting a building. Peter was in possession of a liquor license, which would be useful in financing the building. They appointed him Building Committee Chairman. In 1951 they erected the building and by 1953 the membership grew to 340. Renamed the Cape Verdean Progressive Center, Peter was elected the first male president. In 1974 Peter served as Chairman of the Cape Verdean American Federation Convention.

Peter became the first Cape Verdean to be elected to the General Assembly of Rhode Island and served as State Representative of District 84, that later became District 83, from 1967 to 1978. He was the Secretary of the Ward 2 Democratic City Committee.

From 1968-1972, he was the Executive Director of Homes for Hope Foundation, Catholic Diocese of Providence. He was a residential housing appraiser for HUD from 1984-1992. He started his own real estate company, PETCO, as a licensed real estate broker.

Peter and his wife Julia had five daughters.