Donald M. Dade, 79, executive director of the CRUCIAL human services agency, died unexpectedly Monday (Feb. 19, 2001) in Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
A longtime community leader, Dade died of a heart attack. He had been hospitalized for therapy after his lower right leg was amputated about two weeks ago because of a diabetic condition.
Dade, who came to Buffalo in 1960, had served since 1991 as director of CRUCIAL, which stands for Citizens for the Redevelopment of Unified Community Interest and Leadership.
He had headed Buffalo Triad Housing Corp. from 1986 to 1991, served as executive director of the Buffalo Community Development Organization from 1979 to 1986, was executive director of Phoenix House from 1974 to 1979 and worked as an investigator for the Erie County Bar Association Indigent Prisoner Program from 1972 to 1974.
He also was a former director of the Erie County Citizens Commission on Criminal Justice and a former member of the Buffalo Police Department's Citizen Advisory Board.
"He was a wonderful human being whose heart and mind were in the right place," said Mayor Anthony M. Masiello. "He sacrificed much to make his community better, and because of him it is better."
Oswaldo Mestre Jr., vice chairman of the CRUCIAL board of directors, said Dade "is going to be missed. He gave half a century of his life to his country and his community."
Soon after becoming executive director of CRUCIAL, Dade negotiated an agreement with the city to convert abandoned School 62 at 230 Moselle St. into a community center that would be operated by CRUCIAL. The project was completed at a cost of $3 million in September.
Dade also was responsible for making CRUCIAL a component of the Weed and Seed Program, which designated the community center as one of the program's three "Safe Havens."
Dade worked from 1969 to 1972 as labor chairman for affirmative action with the Minority Coalition. During the height of the civil rights movement, he worked with the Neighborhood Legal Aid program.
He also worked briefly as an inventory specialist for E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
A World War II Army veteran, Dade volunteered for service in 1943. He was discharged in 1946 as a noncommissioned officer.
After the war, he attended Northwestern and Michigan State universities, earning a bachelor's degree and teaching certificate from the latter. He earned a master's degree in citizenship and public affairs from Syracuse University.
While in college, he joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps, earning a commission as a second lieutenant in the newly formed U.S. Air Force.
After President Harry S. Truman issued an order desegregating the military in 1948, Dade was invited to become a political science instructor at the U.S. Military Academy, where he taught for several years. He left the service as a first lieutenant in 1954 and went to Chicago, where he taught in a public high school for two years.
For his contributions to the community, Dade had been honored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the FBI, the National Conference for Community and Justice, the City of Buffalo, Leadership Buffalo and the U.S. attorney's Western District office.
He is survived by his wife of 35 years, the former Joy Rogers; two daughters, Gretchen of Buffalo and Red Zoe of New York City; a son, Byron of Auburn; and a grandson.
Services will be held at noon Saturday in Unitarian Universalist Church of Buffalo, 695 Elmwood Ave.