Sal Laterra of Providence, R.I.. and. for the past 18 years a frequent West Tisbury visitor, died May 4 at Massachusetts General Hospital after a brief illness. He had celebrated his 90th birthday in West Tisbury just a week earlier.

For more than 70 years, Paramount Cleansers, started by Sal’s father in downtown Providence city, was the place where mayors, state governors and senators, Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design professors took their clothes to be tailored and scrupulously cleaned. Sal’s Sicilian immigrant father had opened the shop in 1929. In 1946, after two years and two months in the U.S. Marine Corps in the Pacific, Sal returned home and joined his father in the shop.

He had joined the Marines when he was 17 and the Third Marine Division to which he belonged had participated in the freeing of Guam from the Japanese. His unit was awaiting orders to invade Japan when the atomic bomb was dropped. His division then went to Tiensin, China for some months. It was a site he revisited with much enthusiasm in 1998.

To the end of his life, he retained his enthusiasm for the Marine Corps and the vigorous training it had given him. In 1985, when he was 58, he was featured on the cover of the Providence Sunday Journal’s Health and Fitness insert as a prime example of a healthy Rhode Island outdoorsman. He was a skier, hiker, cyclist and mountain climber well into his 70s and was always especially proud of having skied Switzerland’s Chamonix. With the late Andrew Dickerman of Providence and West Tisbury, he had cycled most of Rhode Island with the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen and climbed peaks in the White Mountains. In retirement, he had also perfected his ability with a camera, photographing on travels in the Far East, Europe, the British Isles, South and Central America and the Middle East. Vigorous, curious traveler as he was, he was always happy, however, to spend quieter times on the Vineyard, mowing the grass, planting flowers, netting blueberries and tending the grapes where he stayed in West Tisbury. In Providence, he had bought the lot next to his house and planted a garden there, not only for the enjoyment of his own family, but for those neighbors, he said, who lacked enough land for their own gardens. He had grown up, he said, in a Providence tenement, and he knew how much better you could feel with a garden around you.

He was born in Providence April 27, 1926, a son of Joseph and Elisabetta (Autiello) Laterra. He attended Mount Pleasant High School but left to join the Marines when World War II broke out.

He is survived by his daughter, Elizabeth Hobbins of Laurel, Md., recently retired from the National Security Agency; his son, John Laterra M.D. Ph.D of Baltimore. Md. (whom Newsweek named one of the nation’s leading neuro-oncologists this year); and three grandchildren, Catherine Hobbins of Columbia, Md., Sarah Yusko of Westminster, Colo., and Anne Laterra of Atlanta, Ga.; and a brother, Jospeh Laterra of Wickford, R.I. He was predeceased by his wife Alda (Pontarelli) Laterra, and two sisters, Adeline McGuirk and Lucy Pettinato. His companion Phyllis Meras of West Tisbury also survives him.

A memorial service will be held at a time to be announced.