In an era when calls arise for consolidation of local government, Anna A. Martorana, Ph.D., was staunch advocate of small-town independence. The mayor of Farnham, the smallest village in Erie County, for 10 years, she spoke from experience.
"The best government is the one closest to the people," she told The Buffalo News upon her retirement in 1996. "When government moves away from the people, something is lost."
She died Tuesday in St. Columban's on the Lake Retirement Home, Silver Creek, where she had been a resident for three years. She was 91.
Dr. Martorana, who was born in Farnham, was fiscally frugal and did not always believe her hometown should go it alone.
In her first year as mayor, she fostered the elimination of the village's two-man Police Department in favor of patrols by town police, sheriff's deputies and state police. In her final year, renovation of Village Hall was completed with the help of a $90,000 grant.
In retirement, she continued to champion her community and its heritage as village historian.
The fifth of seven children, she was a graduate of Silver Creek High School and Fredonia Normal School, now Fredonia State College. From 1936 to 1946, she taught elementary school in Brant and junior high school in Northport, Long Island.
In 1946, she received her master's degree in remedial reading and psychological services from Columbia University, then returned to Farnham and joined the faculty of Buffalo State College. During summers and on sabbatical, she earned a doctorate in human development with a minor in psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1954.
A professor of human growth and development at Buffalo State, she also taught during the summer at colleges in Arkansas, Washington, Oregon and Canada.
A year after she retired from teaching in 1976, she was elected to the Farnham Village Board. Ten years later, when the mayor moved to Florida, she was appointed to succeed him. Voters then elected her to serve out the rest of his and re-elected her twice. She presided over the village's centennial celebration in 1992 and wrote a history of the village.
An avid traveler, she was active in St. Anthony Catholic Church in Farnham and was a member of the National Organization of Italian American Women. She received Fredonia State College's Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award in 1986.
Unmarried, she raised two of her nephews after the death of their mother.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at noon Friday in St. Anthony Church, 417 Commercial St., Farnham, after prayers at 11:15 a.m. in Addison Funeral Home, 262 N. Main St., Angola.