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Isabelle Johnson Mayer, 96, one of the first women to manage F.W. Woolworth stores in Buffalo and Erie County, died Monday (Sept. 13, 1999) in Brothers of Mercy Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Clarence, after a brief illness.

Born in Pittsburgh, she moved with her family to Hamilton, Ont., and then to Buffalo, where she attended School 60. She later attended Hurst Business School and dreamed of the day she would assume a management job, according to her daughter, Sylvia Herbert Paul of Williamsville.

Mrs. Paul remembered that, like many talented women in business, her mother realized her dream during the manpower shortage of World War II, when, in 1945, she was appointed to manage the Woolworth's store on William Street "for the duration."

But even after the men returned from military service, Mrs. Paul said, it did not take long for Mrs. Mayer to win the title of manager of the Genesee-Moselle Woolworth's store, a position she retained until her retirement in 1965.

Over the years, she helped train other Woolworth's store managers. When she retired, she was one of six women managers of Woolworth's stores in Erie County.

Mrs. Mayer was known for her administrative skills and often said that she preferred to be working on business matters in her store than doing housework.

In addition to a 43-year career in Woolworth's retailing, she found time to be active in many organizations. She was a member of Occidental Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star; the Buffalo Power Squadron Auxiliary; the Zonta Club of Buffalo; and the Buffalo Chapter of the Business and Professonal Women's Club.

She had been a Girl Scout troop leader and served as kindergarten superintendent of the former Riverside United Presbyterian Church for many years.

After her retirement, she and her husband continued to be active in Riverside neighborhood organizations. They loved to dance and atttended dinner-dances until she was in her early 80s.

Her husband, Milton R., a prominent figure in Riverside organizations, died in 1985. They were married for 62 years.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Mayer is survived by two sisters, Sylvia Burgstahler of Kenmore and Pauline Faux of Jacksonville, Fla.; three grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday in United Church of Christ Church of the Nativity, 1530 Colvin Blvd., Town of Tonawanda. Burial will be in Elmlawn Cemetery, Town of Tonanwanda.


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